What speakers need to know about brand marketing and storytelling

What You Need to Know About Brand Storytelling


What You Need to Know About Brand Storytelling

Discover what you need to know about brand storytelling that will have you booking more speaking engagements with ease. Learning this will make you a better marketer.

If you’ve ever said, “I have a great story, but I don’t know how to market it or get started.” this post is for you.

Storytelling should be the foundation of your marketing. Your brand story should be used in email marketing, in your demo video, on your website, on social media etc.

Marketing is all about getting in front of the right people and either inspiring, educating or entertaining them to buy what you have to offer.

When you learn how to market your story and brand, you’ll have a much easier time booking gigs and getting paid your worth.

Writing, designing, and crafting a memorable story will make your brand stand out from the crowd and have your audience hanging on your every word.

It’s not enough to just have a cool story. It’s how you use that story on your site, on social, and in your demo video that will create opportunities.

You’ll find that people are reaching out, inquiring about your services, interviewing you on podcasts, and are wanting to know more about you from the stories your share.

Clear, concise storytelling will get your marketing message heard so people will notice you and listen to what you have to say.

A lot of what I learned comes from Donald Miller, CEO of StoryBrand, who business leaders and speakers how to clarify their message so people will listen. What he teaches can be broken down into seven parts.

I’ll briefly explain the StoryBrand framework of storytelling and how it pertains to speakers that want to book more gigs and share their message with the right people.


How do public speakers get booked and paid to speak? Marketing!

They have a plan, with a clear message and they take massive action on that plan.

I know a lot of speakers struggle with marketing — I know I did, especially in the beginning.

I know it’s tough to market yourself and your story, but with an action plan and easy to follow format, you’ll be booking gigs and getting steady paying clients wanting to work with you.

It’s your duty and responsibility to craft a clear, compelling message and have people listen to your story if it can help grow or change their business and life.

Here’s the StoryBrand framework broken down.

You have a character — with a problem — meets a guide — who gives them a plan — and calls them to action — that results in success — or failure.

I’ll explain…


Every story has a character(s). Most likely it’s you or your audience. The character needs to be someone the audience begins to know, like, and trust.

The character needs to be relatable and understand the audience’s perspective. Someone that’s been in the trenches or has walked in the same shoes. A person that feels real and has experienced similar pain or struggle.

Pro Tip: Don’t position yourself as the hero — It will backfire if you do. Your audience is the hero. You are the guide. (More on that in a minute. Keep reading.)


What internal problem does your audience have?

What inner turmoil, frustration, stress or “thing” do they complain about?

What struggles in business or life do they talk to their friends or co-workers about?

People do a lot of complaining and it’s easy to figure out their problems if you ask or keep an ear to the ground.

Knowing your audience is the #1 marketing rule on the planet. You have to get inside their head, use their language, discover what they struggle with and how you can help solve a problem.

If you don’t know your audience, you’ll have a really hard time finding clients, booking gigs, and getting paid.

Pro Tip: Knowing the problem you solve for your audience is paramount to your speaking success.

Here are a few examples of problems people face. Start thinking about what problem you want to help people with…

Tony Robbins describes this as the 7 Areas of Life that are important if you want to master your life.

  1. Physical Body
  2. Emotions & Meaning
  3. Relationships
  4. Time
  5. Work/Career
  6. Finances
  7. Spirituality/Contribution/Celebration

Within these seven areas, what problems do people face?

For example:

  1. Losing weight (Physical body)
  2. Fear, happiness, mindset (Emotions & Meaning)
  3. Marriage, being single (Relationships)
  4. Productivity, time management (Time)
  5. Getting new clients, starting a business (Work/Career)
  6. Saving money, family budget (Finances)
  7. Connecting to a higher purpose, charity, travel (Spirituality, Contribution, Celebration)


Once you’ve identified a problem that you’ve solved for yourself or others, you become a guide for others. You’re standing on stage sharing your message of how you lost 40 lbs and changed your mindset around diet and exercise.

The audience can relate because they want to lose weight too and now all of the sudden, you’re the guide that is going to teach them how you did this.

You’ve created a result for yourself (lost 40 lbs) and now the audience wants to learn how you did it…


Naturally, you have a plan for how you lost the weight. Now it’s time you share the plan with your audience. Do you create a framework, plan or system that helps your audience get results?

The weight loss plan: Exercise 30 mins a day and cut carbs.

The Speaker Lab Roadmap: A step-by-step process that walks you through selecting a problem to knowing when to scale your business beyond the stage.

Plan your work — then work the plan.

Be the guide with a plan, don’t be the hero. Give your audience the tools, resources, and knowledge necessary to complete the mission on their own.

Your audience becomes the hero in their own story.


This is where the character (you or your audience) is called to make a decision and what marketers refer to as the “Call-to-Action.” Is your call-to-action clear, concise, and does it make sense to your audience?

Have you called them to the challenge?

Will you invite them to take the journey no matter the risks?

As their guide and leader, this is your job. The environment you create for the audience should have them working the plan immediately?

“Insight without action is worthless.” – Marie Forleo

If you can get the audience to take immediate action and get a fast result, they will love you forever. My friend, Noah Kagan, strives to do this during every speech. We talked about it on The Speaker Lab podcast.

As a result, people love him, value his opinion, and use his words as gold. He understands the power of an action plan.

Pro Tip: Other calls-to-action on a website, email newsletter or marketing materials might include:

“Click Here”

“Request a Demo”

“Sign Up”

“Apply Now”

Use a CTA (call-to-action) on every page of your website and in all of your marketing materials.


Paint the picture of success. Your story needs to show what the happy ending will look like with your audience as the hero.

As a fitness instructor, you show them a physical result. That’s why you constantly see half-naked bodies with tight abs all over the internet.

It’s why business speakers need to describe, in detail, what an increase in profit will look like — And most importantly how the audience will FEEL once they’ve accomplished the mission and reached their goal.

It’s why relationship experts show photos of happy couples with 2.5 kids running around. They create the desire to be married and show the fairytale playing out in your favor.

In business, testimonials on your website matter. People want to know that you have experience and have helped others just like them.

Make success relevant and specific to your audience.

Modern marketing is going more and more visual in every industry. Make sure you have proof or visual results to show your audience the ultimate goal or vision.

People crave freedom, love, being heard, and valued. Show them what’s possible if they follow the plan and take action.

Pro Tip: People value experiences. They love to travel, send their kids to college, enjoy a loving relationship, grow as a person, experience freedom from a cubicle, speak with confidence, and love their bodies.

The better and more detailed you can paint this picture, the better chance you have of making a difference in their life.


Equally as important to paint the picture of success, you need to show what failure will look like in your storytelling and marketing. Showing your audience the worse case scenario and what lack of action looks like will also make an impact in their decision making.

Ultimately, you want people to book your services and buy your products that will solve their problems. If they don’t take action and make a change the same mundane future awaits for them.

It’s your job to show both the positive and negative choices that your audience has.

For example:

Option 1: Continue down the path you’re on — fat, overweight, depressed, and tired.

Option 2: Invest in your health and feel energized, playful, happy, and love the way you look.

When you lay out the options for your audience, of course, they want to live happy, thin and free. No one wants to feel unhealthy and uncomfortable in their clothes.


When you’re creating and crafting your story from the stage, it’s important that you start at the end. Decide what the main idea or purpose of your speech will be.

From that point, you’ll be able to design your story with grace and ease. When you know the purpose of your speech and how you want the audience to feel, you will be better equipped to tell a compelling story.

You’re able to make a larger impact when you know the moral of the story.


Take the pressure off of you and focus on your audience. Use the framework described in this post to craft your story and market your message with your audience in mind. This simple mindset shift will help calm your nerves and deliver a more powerful message too.


You’re allowed to use the same story over and over, but you change the purpose based on the audience. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel over and over again or create original content for every talk.

You can use a story about your car breaking down and how it’s important to practice regular maintenance. You have a personal responsibility to maintain your car for the safety of your family.

Main idea: Personal responsibility. Audience: Parents with small kids.

Now you tell the same story about your car breaking down, but the car is now a metaphor for your physical body.

When you take care of your body (like your car) it will last for years to come. You fill it will gas regularly, change the oil, make sure you get new tires every few thousand miles.

When you fill the tank it’s like eating healthy foods when you change the oil, it’s a quarterly cleanse, and when you get new tires, it’s like getting a new pair of shoes to exercise.

Main idea: Health and fitness. Audience: Men that need to lose 40 lbs or more.

Same story, different audience based on what’s relevant to the audience. You have the freedom to tell your story 100 different ways.

At this point, you have a plan and framework for what you need to know about brand storytelling. When you master this art of storytelling, you’ll find yourself in a position to create your best life.

Now it’s your turn.

In the comments, tell me your #1 takeaway and how you plan to use it in your next speech?

7 Industries That Will Hire (and Pay) Professional Speakers



Discover the top seven industries that will hire and pay professional speakers. Learn how to find your niche and take massive action towards your passion.If you’re looking to make speaking part of your business model then it’s important to pick an industry and niche down.

If you’re looking to make speaking part of your business model then it’s important to pick an industry and niche down.

Ok, ok, I can hear the sighing and gripes from the multi-passionate peeps that go into convulsions just thinking about niching down.

Most people want to speak to anyone and everyone who will listen, but if you really want to be successful, you need to narrow your focus.

I know you’re probably terrified trying to figure out how you’ll narrow it all down, but I’m here to help you with that.

If you can niche down and figure out what industry you should be speaking in, you’ll see significant changes in your career and ability to impact a greater number of people.

You’ll actually feel a greater sense of freedom and impact as a result, not like a caged animal ready to pounce.

Also, just because you pick one niche doesn’t mean you’re trapped in that niche forever.

This breakdown of speaking industries is a place for you to get started, not the end-all-be-all. Once you have the foundation you can change things up and master another industry if you’d like.

But if you’re just starting out, you can’t jump around from one industry to another.

People will think you’re confused and unsure of yourself — exactly what you don’t want people to think.


  1. Stand out from competitors to increase visibility & reduce competition.
  2. Create an excellent client experience.
  3. Increase word-of-mouth marketing for a steady stream of gigs.
  4. You’ll be the GO-TO person in the industry for all client problems.
  5. You’ll understand the audience so they feel valued and heard.

Now, I’m not going to go into each of these benefits of niche marketing, but if you’re serious about building a speaking business you know that standing out, having your audience feel valued and being the go-to person in your industry are game changers for long-term success.

Simply put, if you don’t establish yourself in one industry you’re competing for everything, which means you’ll win at nothing.

However, if you pick one niche like corporations or associations, you can focus your efforts on that particular audience and stand out in your market for the greatest impact and result.

This post will help present the 7 top industries that will hire (and pay) beginner and professional speakers.

You’ll be able to see each industry, their pros and cons, potential topics, and action steps you can take to get started today.

By the end, you should know which industry will work best for your current experience and skill set. Also, I’ll show you the potential earnings per industry and the ease of entry.

For example, churches have an easy entry point, but a low potential of earning versus corporations which have a harder entry, but high potential earning.

Does that mean everyone should be striving to be a corporate speaker? Absolutely not.

You need to focus on what you’re good at and where you have experience. Otherwise, if you chase the money, you’ll fall flat on your face.

And as a speaker, no one wants to think of falling flat on their face… 🙂

To make this easy to visualize, I’ve added a graphic to explain The Speaking Industry Matrix.

Speaking Inudstry Matrix


Earning Potential = High

Ease of Entry = Difficult

Do you have experience in sales and marketing?

Do you love entrepreneurship?

Have you built a 6, 7 or 8 figure business from the ground up?

Are you the CEO that took a failing company to industry leader?
If you have a small business or corporate experience you might want to consider speaking in the business industry.


Corporation speakers have the highest potential earning.

If you niche down and get specific with who your audience is you’re likely to become the go-to expert in your niche. (Think… health care, tech, realtors, insurance, etc).

Attending conferences, mingling, and networking will get you in front of the decision makers that can propel you into the spotlight.


Can be difficult to know who the decision makers are because there are so many decisions, budgets, structures and people involved.

Lack of message clarity will leave you extremely frustrated. It’s extremely important to be super clear on the problem you solve and who your ideal audience is.


After you attend conferences, follow-up within 24-48 hours with a polite email recapping your conversation and identifying any questions or answers that needed to be addressed.


  1. Recruitment and staffing
  2. Increasing ROI
  3. Team building methods
  4. Internal auditing
  5. Small business ideas and opportunities
  6. Leadership and management
  7. Technology and systems
  8. Sales and marketing
  9. Investing
  10. Logistics and transportation


  1. List the skills you learned from your corporate experience.
  2. List your credibilities and why someone should listen to you.
  3. List and research conferences you’d like to attend.
  4. List warm contacts that you’d like to reach out to.


Earning Potential = High

Ease of Entry = Medium

Are you passionate about special interest groups?

Do you have a hobby or specific group of people that could benefit from your message?

If you have a passion for a certain group or common interest with others, you might want to consider speaking at an association. They offer higher pay and target a specialized audience.

Win/win for those that know exactly who they want to speak to.


The list of associations and special interest groups are endless. If you have an interest then there is probably an association tied to it.

Search Google for “X interest” followed by “associations” and I’m sure you’ll find a plethora of groups you have something in common with.


Tend to be one of the better niches to focus on because there are so many potential events/conferences/training available to you.
Associations are similar to corporations because they pay the same or maybe a little lower.


It’s a competitive space because there are so many associations that it’s easy to spread yourself thin with your message.


Look for national association groups that have state/local chapters that hire speakers.

One national association with a chapter in every state could yield over 200+ opportunities. Think about it. If one chapter hosts 2-3 events per year, plus local, regional, and national events, that could be the break you’ve been searching for.

Associations offer ample opportunities to a niche market. Plus if you love traveling you could easily target several states across the country or globe.


  1. Power of Parents
  2. Eliminate Drunk Driving
  3. Exam Prep Materials
  4. Technology Resources
  5. Connections/Networks
  6. Photography
  7. Community Outreach
  8. Social Media
  9. Donations/Fundraising
  10. Health and Nutrition


  • List 3 interest, hobbies or associations that you have experience or knowledge in.
  • Search for a national association that you’d be interested in speaking at over the next 12 months.
  • Reach out and introduce yourself to the chapter leader. Add value before you ask for something in return.


Earning Potential = Low
Ease of Entry = Medium

Do you have a soft spot for those less fortunate?

Are you a natural giver that feels completely satisfied after raising money for a good cause?

Do you believe that everyone should have equal opportunity to live a great life?

How do you feel being the voice for those that need support?

pexels photo 172101

Adam Braun from Pencils of Promise coined the term, “For-Purpose” referring to nonprofit organizations. Adam didn’t like how the “nonprofit” name had a negative connotation to for-profit CEO’s.

Since when did helping others and striving to make an impact in the world become such a “bad thing?” As if making money was the only driving force to organizations…

I won’t go into my personal stance on this, but Adam decided to stop referring to his 501c3 as a “nonprofit” and started talking about it as a “for-purpose” organization that has built over 418 schools since 2009.

He started using the term “For-Purpose” and the nonprofit industry is loving this new frame of mind.

If you are passionate about your message, building awareness and money isn’t your primary objective then nonprofit speaking should be right up your alley. You probably have a mission to accomplish something bigger in life and it’s not about making stockholders more money.

You want to feed the homeless, you want education for kids across the globe, you’re eager to help those less fortunate.

If you have a gift for fundraising and telling stories that hit the emotional core than nonprofit speaking sounds ideal for you.

I didn’t speak primarily in nonprofit, but I often do nonprofit events — even to this day. I believe in the power of nonprofits and know that speakers are needed at benefits to raise money for a cause.

This is a great place to get your feet wet and build your skills on stage. Raising money for a good cause is a highly satisfying career.


Some nonprofits use “grants” or some type of outside funding to hire speakers.

Nonprofits will bring in speakers around the topic of fundraisers (i.e. motivational speaker with a cool story for a fundraising banquet) to help raise money and promote awareness.


Nonprofits tend to have smaller budgets.

They generally want to put their funds back into the work and not into speakers.


Once you get into nonprofit speaking, look for other nonprofits that might be willing to hire you as well.


  1. United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
  2. Kiva
  3. Do Something
  4. Doctors Without Borders
  5. Feeding America
  6. World Wildlife Fund
  7. St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital
  8. Disabled American Veterans
  9. Save the Children
  10. Ted Talks


  1. Fundraising
  2. Brand Storytelling
  3. Global Impact
  4. Education
  5. Inspiration/Motivation
  6. Spread Brand Awareness
  7. Successful Marketing Campaigns


  • List 10 local, state or national nonprofit organizations that you’d like to speak at.
  • List 3 reasons why you’re qualified to speak at a nonprofit event.


Earning Potential = Low
Ease of Entry = Easy

Do you have a strong affiliation with a religious organization?

Has religion given you the strength you needed to fight?

Has God impacted your life in a way that could inspire others to change their life?

Speaking in a church or faith-based organization is a great way to get started and to familiarize yourself with the stage.

If you have a strong religious foundation and have a powerful story that inspires others than speaking for a faith-based industry offers tremendous opportunity.

pexels photo 250157


Easy entry because there are so many available opportunities if you’re willing to work for less or low pay.


Churches offer low pay because most are nonprofit that reinvest their budgets back into the organization.




  1. Empowering Youth
  2. Perseverance
  3. Overcoming Adversity
  4. Leadership
  5. Personal Excellence
  6. Team Building
  7. Inspiration
  8. Faith
  9. Motivation
  10. Education


  • List 10 local churches
  • Reach out to them for more information on speaking at an upcoming service or event.


Earning Potential = High
Ease of Entry = Difficult

Do you love politics, the military, and believe that your story can impact the direction of the country?

Do you have a deep passion for those that serve in the military?

Have you served in government and have a message to share that could impact someone’s life?

…then speaking to government or military officials might be a dream come true for you.

soldier military uniform american

Speaking in the government and military industry pays well. And once you’re in, it’s a lot easier to get regular gigs.

Military experience and an inspiring story are an entry plus.


Can be one of the toughest markets to get into because it’s hard to know who the potential clients and decision makers are.

Lots of red tape and hoops to jump through to get hired.


Identify other speakers who are in this industry and build relationships with them for possible referrals.


  1. Country Affairs (China, Middle East, etc.)
  2. Crisis Management
  3. Robotics, AI & Drones
  4. Teamwork
  5. Technology
  6. Politics
  7. Peak Performance
  8. Negotiation
  9. Leadership
  10. International Business
  11. History
  12. Healthcare


  • List people you know that have government/military experience.
  • Reach out to them and get more information.


Earning Potential = Medium
Ease of Entry = Medium

How do you feel about preparing the next generation for the “real world?”

Do you have an inspiring story to share that will change the mindset of eager students?

Can you relate to students that believe in high education?

If you feel like you can relate to the 18 – 22 year olds that wants more for their life, then speaking at colleges and universities might be a great option for you to explore.

pexels photo 269140


There are thousands of colleges and universities across the globe so there are plenty of opportunities.

Pay is decent and the audience is highly engaged.


High competition.

Budgets vary from school to school.

Message clarity is essential because there are so many potential topics to address.


Pick a niche within colleges. “Speaking to colleges” doesn’t really help. What can you focus your talk on that will have an impact on the way people think and feel?




  1. Campus Security
  2. Campus Life
  3. Varsity/ Recreational Clubs
  4. Greek Life
  5. Athletics
  6. Lecture Circuit
  7. Life After Graduation
  8. Orientation
  9. Roommates
  10. Health & Wellness


  • List 10 local universities or contact your alma mater.
  • Reach out to the Dean or department head and introduce yourself.

7. Education (K-12)

Earning Potential = Low
Ease of Entry = Easy

Does the idea of inspiring and motivation today’s youth excite you?

Can you relate to the struggles of the classroom environment?

Do you have a passion for reforming elementary education?

pexels photo 207653


Lots of schools = lots of opportunities.
Opportunity to expand your audience to teachers and parents.

The principal is usually the decision maker which makes them relatively easy to find and contact.


Budgets are low compared to the other seven industries.


The higher the grade level the more they tend to pay. For example, middle schools have more of a budget than elementary. And high schools have more of a budget than middle schools — same goes for college vs. high school.




  1. Bullying
  2. Foundation for Education
  3. Mean Girls
  4. Athletics
  5. Gaming
  6. Inspiration/Motivation
  7. Family Life
  8. Establishing Valuable Friendships
  9. Drug Free
  10. Peer Pressure/Influence


  • List 10-20 local schools.
  • Reach out to the principal and introduce yourself.

There you have it. A detailed list of the top 7 industries that will hire (and pay) beginner and professional speakers.

Now, I want you to take your action one step further and answer these coaching questions.


  1. What problem do you solve for the industry you’re interested in?
  2. What makes you credible to speak on this subject?
  3. What tangible results have you created that you can share with potential clients?

Now it’s your turn.

In the comments below:

  1. If you’re currently speaking publically, tell me what industry you’re in?

  2. If you’re new, what industry do you see yourself speaking in based on your skill set, passion, and experience?

Learn 10 secrets about the speaking industry that will inspire you to take massive action with Melanie Deziel

[CASE STUDY] 10 Secrets You Need to Know About the Speaking Industry with Melanie Deziel

How Melanie Deziel faced a challenge and found her sweet spot in a competitive niche.

10 Secrets You Need To Know About the Speaking Industry

I don’t think someone in the speaking industry can go from a complete nobody to delivering a keynote at a national conference “overnight.”

It doesn’t work like that. If you been in the speaking industry for any length of time you know what I’m talking about.

So how does someone like Melanie Deziel go from an “unknown” with no speaking experience to speaking in seven different countries and inspiring over thousands of people at 60+ events in less than two years?

Well, I’ll let you in on what has worked for her and for many of my students. But please note that “success” depends on several factors and can be measured many different ways. There are no guarantees.

What I’m sharing with you is Melanie’s story and what I wish someone would have told me before I started speaking.

What Melanie has been able to accomplish in a relatively short amount of time, in a competitive market like sales and marketing is remarkable. She’s not the kind of person that waits around for an answer or for inspiration to strike, she’s someone that uses her resources and creates opportunities.

Here are a few secrets and lessons you can learn from someone like Melanie.


You could easily make excuses like:

  • I don’t have a valuable skill set
  • I don’t know the “right” people
  • I have kids
  • I don’t have enough time
  • I have a sick parent or family member
  • I work a full-time job
  • I don’t have a high-profile job
  • I live in rural Iowa and don’t have the same opportunities as a city person

Or you could put your head down and get to work despite your situation. And that’s what Melanie Deziel did. She put her blinders on and started doing the work. From that work, she’s been “successful.”

How do I define or measure success?

It’s not by the number in your bank account. It’s not by how many likes you have on Facebook, Twitter or IG either.

Success is subjective and defined differently by each individual, but for me, I define success by giving speakers the confidence they need to make an impact.

Is Melanie successful? Absolutely.

She’s successful because she follows a strategic formula that has built her confidence — which makes her a highly sought after speaking. That, to me, is success.

And the best part is that her success depends on her ability to work hard and persevere. She’s not the kind of person to blame others or depend on someone else to make her successful.

If I had to guess, she’s someone that accepts a challenge and creates the opportunities necessary to grow.

Melanie fell into speaking when her boss at The New York Times asked her to fill in for a colleague who was unable to speak at a conference in Florida.

The presentation was supposed to be about social media, something Melanie was familiar with, but she’d never prepared a presentation for the stage before and she hadn’t spent much time with the NYT’s “Psychology of Sharing” report, which the audience would be sure to have questions about.

She knew that success depended on her ability to learn the material and to present the findings. She could have put the responsibility on her boss and asked him to prepare her, but she didn’t. She went home, locked herself in a room (half kidding), read the research and dug deep into what needed to be done.

She knew that if she was going to be successful, she better be prepared for the job ahead.

Success depends on you. Embrace the challenge and accept where you are.


You probably consider yourself to be a hard worker. Most people do. But can you honestly say you’re spending your time wisely?

Are you working on tasks that will lead you to a tangible result?

You might be working a full-time job and trying to figure out this speaking thing on the side. Yes, that is hard work, but are you strategic in how you approach potential clients?

Working hard is essential, but only if you have a plan to work. Without a plan, work is worthless.

Melanie wasn’t on Facebook, Instagram or listening to a podcast and calling it “work.” She was very organized about her outreach and used many techniques in Booked & Paid to Speak that resulted in leads and follow up opportunities.

And by organized and methodical, I mean she created a massive spreadsheet of potential events and did a ton of strategic outreach, tracking each contact so she could follow up and reduce back and forth.

She also used her network of strategic friends (not Billy Bob from high school that works on a farm) and fellow speakers for leads and recommendations on non-competitive events.

Melaine needed experience and she was willing to go to the not-so-glamourous events to get it. She worked hard and still does to this day.

She did the work to get in front of the right people. She used a proven system like Booked & Paid to Speak to get where she wanted to go.

Melanie would respond to any praise on social media from folks who attended her speaking engagements. She would follow up with requests for endorsements and testimonials whenever possible.

Again, the hard work to make the impact she craved. Look at what she’s been able to create in the past year…

MDeziel Inforgraphic

Melanie teaches marketing professionals how to use stories in their advertising — something that isn’t mainstream, yet. She’s working hard to make Native Advertising (brand storytelling) an essential conversation among sales and marketing teams.

She is making waves and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down in the future. Melanie is a hard worker and if you want to be successful, especially in the beginning you need sacrifice.


Event planners start booking events six months to a year in advance. This isn’t a last-minute industry where people are scrambling two days before an event. If you think months down the road and start reaching out now, you’ll have a better booking conversion rate.

Melanie was constantly on the hunt for events months in advance. She would keep a record of each and every event she wanted to contact.

Long list + long term goal = high success rate.

You don’t want to be that person that procrastinates and misses the opportunity. Do yourself a favor and track every email you send and when you replied. This will make your life easier and you’ll be able to quickly follow up with an email that hasn’t been addressed in 3 weeks.

Think ahead and plan with detail. You’ll thank Melanie and me later.


Mdeziel at Content Marketing Conference in Vegas

If you visualize your future often, chances are it’ll become reality faster. Ever hear the story about Jim Carrey and how he wrote himself a check for $10 million and post dated it Thanksgiving 1995?

At the time he was broke and didn’t have the success he has today, but he would drive through the rich part of town and visualize directors saying, “I like your work.” He would then look at the check in his wallet, and envision that money.

And right before Thanksgiving 1995, Jim got the call that he’d would make $10M on Dumb and Dumber.

Coincidence. I think not. He saw it happening. He felt it in his blood. He envisioned life as a millionaire. He never doubted that it would happen. There were times when it looked doubtful, but he set a big, long-term goals and acted as if it was already happening.

He wasn’t sitting on the couch wishing for $10M, he was working in the industry, getting gigs and honing his craft. This is what I want you to do. Get out there, get your hands dirty and visualize your life as you want it to be.

It’s important to set goals. Without them, you have nothing to work towards or measure. Set a goal, think long-term (3 months, 6 months, 12 months), take action and keep going. You’ll get there. I believe in you.


Building a relationship with a complete stranger takes time. But what if that person wasn’t a stranger and you had a connection?

People do business with people they know, like, trust. Event coordinators hire speakers they like and that will make them look good. If you’re hiring a speaker for an event or any type of service professional for something, all things being equal, you’re going to hire someone you actually like and trust.

Not only should you be building relationships with coordinators, but with other speakers. My first full year as a speaker, I got most of my gigs from other speakers.

Melanie says she had a similar experience. Often, as soon as she would get off stage, someone from the audience would ask her to speak at their event or if she worked privately consulting or doing live workshops. But many times, it was her fellow speakers who would follow up after, suggesting events, making introductions, or suggesting her in their place for gigs they couldn’t take.

So building relationships with other speakers are critically important for booking gigs and building your business, but it’s also valuable for camaraderie. Being a speaker can be very lonely and isolating. You have amazing highs and terrible lows so it helps to have other people on the journey that you can talk to, lean on and learn from.


Nobody wants to do business with someone that doesn’t respond to emails or questions. And surely no one wants to work with a full blown diva that requires your pick up car to be a pleasant 72 degrees with fresh bottled water awaiting your arrival.

You have to be awesome off the stage as well as on the stage. If you hate going back and forth with emails, hire a customer service rep or VA (virtual assistant). People need to love working with you or they’ll never hire you again.

In the beginning, you need to be both sides of the business. You need to be the speaker and the booking agent. You’ll need to get them what they need as fast as possible. And after a few times, you’ll know exactly what they need and you’ll already have it prepared and waiting.

You can’t go from a nobody to rockstar if you suck behind the scenes. Make high-quality communication a priority so that they’ll be remembered for years to come.

Melanie quickly realized how time-consuming the back end of the business can be. It wasn’t easy to be working a full-time job and handling the email correspondents for speaking gigs after putting in a full day’s work, but it’s a necessary evil.

Be awesome on stage and off and eventually you’ll have the funds to pay someone to do it for you.


Mdeziel at Webit Summit in Bulgaria

Word-of-mouth marketing is the best way to get more gigs. Once you slay your speech, people talk about you like you’re the best, new pizza place in town.

After Melanie starting talking regularly, people would be reaching out to her looking for consulting or in-person workshops. Her talk was her best marketing.

She has a room full of ideal clients sitting and listening to her message, hanging on her every word. A live experience where you get to meet people in person is better than any Facebook Ad in the world.

The impact and marketing she’s been able to create for herself have been outstanding, and this is completely normal for the speaking industry. Once you start, one gig leads to the next and the rest is history, as they say.

Give a great talk and “marketing” will become much easier.


Speaker bureaus don’t care about you. I hate to burst your bubble, but I can almost guarantee that bureaus are not interested in you. In episode 24 of The Speaker Lab Podcast, Premiere Speaker’s Bureau President Shawn Hanks said, “I manage demand, I don’t create demand.”

Meaning if you aren’t already getting a lot of demand and people aren’t interested in your talk, a bureau isn’t going to magically create that demand for you.

Bureaus aren’t magical unicorns that will get you the exposure you’re looking for. You need to create your own exposure before a bureau will even engage with you.

I wasted too much time, in the beginning, trying to connect with bureaus or find agents who would bring me bookings, it didn’t happen.

The bottom line is if you can’t book yourself, a bureau or agent isn’t going to be able to book you either. So stop looking for a unicorn that doesn’t exist. You’re better off creating the connections on your own and reaching out organically.

Connect with strategic partners and people that you know. Do the work and stick with the process. It’s not easy, but no one ever said it was.


If you want to grow your business, you must continue your education. Melanie didn’t know anything about speaking until after she’d been on stage a handful of times. At that point, she realized it was time to invest.

You can’t grow as a speaker if you’re not learning about yourself, the business and how to make an impact. When you invest in online courses and learn the art of speaking, you’re investing in self-confidence.

I believe that when you’re a confident speaker, your message will impact the audience and change lives. Melanie enrolled in Booked & Paid to Speak and once she did that, her confidence grew because she knew the steps and had a system to follow for proven success. Invest in your education and you’ll cut your learning curve time in half.


You can’t speak about everything to everyone. This is a rookie mistake, my friend. The primary reason you might be thinking like this is that all you want to do is speak.

You don’t care who it’s to or what the talk is about. (Not a good mindset by the way.)

There comes a time when you must draw a line in the sand and pick the audience you best want to serve. It’s better to have ruthless focus than to talk to everyone about nothing.

Melanie happens to be in one of the most competitive fields on the planet; sales and marketing. How was she able to niche down?


She has a background in journalism and loves teaching marketers how to use storytelling in their paid advertising. Native advertising, if you’ve never heard of it, is a cross between advertising and journalism. It takes the form of valuable, informative or entertaining stories like you might see in a newspaper or magazine, but it’s actually a paid advertisement.

Brilliant, right?

There’s tons of opportunity for education in the field. The industry needs someone like Melanie to teach native advertising to hungry marketers looking to create revenue streams and content that stands out from the rest.

There is a lot of confusion around native advertising which leaves the door wide open for Melanie to establish herself as an expert. Plus, she’s able to use her skills and passion for storytelling to make an impact — something she wasn’t able to do sitting at her desk.


The nature of speaking is that you’re gone a lot. You’re away from your family, friends and what most people consider a “normal life.”

Being a speaker can be a lot of fun, but it can also be very lonely, isolating and draining. You spend a lot of time on planes, waiting at airports, sitting in hotel rooms, and eating meals by yourself.

It’s not as glamorous or sexy as most people think. Yes, the money can be good and you get to travel, but there are pros and cons to everything.

One of my favorite sayings is, “Who you are is more important than what you do.”

Repeat after me — Who you are is more important than what you do.

Meaning, if you’re a great speaker and every audience and event planner love you, but you suck as a husband, wife, or parent — it’s not worth it. Who you are off the stage is more important than who you are on the stage.

It’s worth it to devote the time and energy to personal relationships that matter. If you’re a great speaker, but you’ve pushed your family away to make it happen, what’s the point. It’s worth it to be true to yourself, but not at the expense of your family and friends.

I’m sure when Melanie was on the road for 11+ weeks in 2016, she missed family and friends, but when she’s home, it’s time to be home. When you’re present you’re honoring and showing ultimate respect for the people that support you. Give them your time and attention when you’re home.

In episode 60 of the podcast, I interview my wife Sheila on how we made it through the years when I was constantly gone. Having that foundation with your family and friends is so much more important than a 5 figure check or a standing ovation.

Set your priorities and keep an open line of communication. You’ll be surprised at how many more doors will open with you have work and personal boundaries set.

And remember,

Who you are is more important than what you do

What makes Melanie so successful?

She put in the work and built confidence by taking action. She used a system that worked and made it happen for herself.

No excuses, no blaming others — just good ‘ol fashion hard work with a proven plan of attack.

You deserve success just like anyone else. Melanie isn’t a unicorn with magical powers. She does the work, takes strategic action and creates her opportunities.

You can too!

“It may have looked like I was running away from my 9-5, but in reality, I was running toward the chance to use the stage as a platform to help, reach and teach many more marketers and storytellers.” — Melanie Deziel

Now it’s your turn.

What opportunities are you running towards?

How are you using the stage to impact the audience?

How to Find Paid Speaking Opportunities in Any Industry

Actionable ways to find paid speaking opportunities in any industry

How to Find Paid Speaking Opportunities in Any Industry

By the end of this article, you’ll have actionable ways to find paid speaking opportunities in any industry that will help you get the ball rolling. I get this question a lot from speakers.

They want to find paid speaking gigs but don’t know how or where to start.

If you do the work listed here, you’ll have opportunities and contacts filling up your inbox and calendar that you might have to start saying no, or raising your prices.

Good problem to have…

So without further ado, here’s a list of ways to find paid speaking opportunities in any industry.


Most speakers ‘want paid speaking gigs,’ but aren’t very specific with what type of gigs, venues or the audience they want to speak to.

Do you want a small venue with highly engaged people?

Do you want to speak at conferences? Non-profits? Local or global?

Do you want to speak to business professionals? Colleges? Churches?

The list is endless.

Narrow down your focus. Once you do that, finding paid speaking opportunities becomes that much easier.

When you say, “I want paid speaking gigs,” I immediately think, “Ok, what industry? What type of event? How much experience do you have? What do you want to talk about?”

I’m overwhelmed with questions.

If you’re more specific and say, “I want to speak at a local networking event. I want to speak at TEDx. I want to speak at a gardening club.”

I know exactly what you’re asking and I know how to help you. Vague and general is not flattering and doesn’t serve you.

Plus, no one knows how to help you or refer you. Humans are natural problem solvers and when you say, “I want to speak at TEDx.” I immediately know someone I can put you in contact with.

When you say, “I want to speak.” I think, “Oh that’s nice. Good luck with that.”

Be specific. Get clear — finding gigs will become much simpler when you are. Now, let me show you how.


The #1 search engine in the world. Use it. As a new or seasoned speaker, you’ll want to search realistic places and events you’d like to speak at before you go shooting for the stars.

Wanting to “share the stage” with Oprah is a great goal, but let’s be realistic for a second.

Think local, state and regionally, first.

There are two ways you can search:

  1. People
  2. Events

If you follow speakers and events on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, your newsfeed should be flooded with events or people to Google.

If you’re not following industry leaders and influencers, it’s time to get on the social media bandwagon for business.

Social media isn’t only for funny cat videos and photos of the family anymore. It’s a marketing haven for business owners and speakers that want to grow and find an audience.

I’ll talk more about social media later.

For example, if you live in Tennessee and you’re a dentist you could search: “Tennessee Dentist Conference”

Searching for Tennessee dentist conferences

Notice the big, national conferences are at the top. Don’t go all hot-dog straight away my little grasshopper. Scroll down a bit and look for the smaller, local conferences that would love to have someone from their own backyard give a great talk.

And you want to know the secret to Google, scroll all the way to the bottom and you’ll see “Searches related to Tennessee Dentist Conference.”

how to use google to search

This part is gold!

You’ll find all the related keywords that you’ll need to continue your search in the Tennessee area. Once you have what you need from local cities, expand your search to state and region.

Now, say you’re a Christian or faith-based speaker. A simple Google search for “Top Christian Conferences” lead me this page full of events in the U.S.

What if you’re in healthcare? Knitting? Youth athletics? Parks and Recreation? The same rules apply. Search for conferences in any industry. Google knows everything. 🙂

PRO TIP: Just list the events for now. Don’t jump ahead and start crafting emails to the event coordinators or to the hiring professionals. Stay focused and search like crazy.

Start a Google Doc or Google Sheet with links, dates and contact information.

Do this process over and over again until you have 20, 40, 100 events that you’d like to be a speaker at.

Taking focused, targeted action is what will set you apart!


Make this list in Google doc or Google Sheets with links, dates and contact information for each event.

You’re going to create your own speaking opportunities by doing this. I don’t think waiting around for someone to contact you is a strategic way to build your speaking business.

You have to go get what you want and it starts with a list.

Once you know the events, you can see when they’re taking speaker applications (typically months in advance) you can begin reaching out and getting interest from coordinators.

Repeat this process until you have a list of dream events and realistic events that are in your niche.

Next up, contact the event coordinators.


Now that you have your list of specific event and contact information, it’s time to reach out.

“But Grant, what do I say?” Easy. Start with value.

If you know someone from their organization or if you attended their event in the past, say that. Tell them how their event or conference has impacted your life and how it’s made a difference.

PRO TIP: Be specific and take the time to customize this for the person or event you’re reaching out to. Yes, this is time-consuming, but this is the work that will set you apart and make you stand out.

Don’t copy and paste a generic template to every one of the conferences you listed. That’s the fastest way to get deleted and to never hear back from anyone.

Again, you’re building a relationship don’t pitch on the first meeting.

What to do instead:

  • Inquire about the event.
  • Keep it short.
  • Ask specific, intelligent questions that can be answered quickly.

For example, you could ask, “When will you be taking speaker applications for the upcoming XYZ event?”

Be respectful of people’s time. Don’t go into your story and how you got into speaking.

Provide 3-4 sentences on who you are, what you speak about and how you can help their audience with your message.

Follow up a few days later.

If no reply, wait another week and follow up again.

If no answer, wait until the event is a little closer and try again.

Ultimately, you should be reaching out 3-6 months in advance. Some events book out longer — some shorter. This is why you’re contacting decision makers with plenty of notice. It’s important to be prepared.


Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and yes, even LinkedIn are all platforms that use hashtags.

Here are a few hashtags I used and found a slew of events and people to search.








Use hashtags to search for events and people

You can even search for specific conferences by location. For example, I searched #HawaiiConference on Facebook and got this…

Facebook search for conference locations

Once you start searching hashtags and getting on a roll your newsfeed (on every platform) will be flooded with events and people you can connect with.

Your mindset around “finding paid gigs” will be completely changed.

You won’t need to “find” them because you created a system on social and Google that brings the events to you.

Eventually, you won’t be able to keep up with all events being held, but what you will have is a plan and strategy for how to get paid speaking gigs and fast.

If you’re a social media hater, finding gigs will be harder for you. You have to change your mindset around social. It’s an asset for making connections and reaching people from all over the world if done correctly.

Once you begin to embrace social, and you get paid gigs regularly, you’re entire focus will change. You’ll see it as an opportunity, not as a hindrance to normal life.

Social media marketing is growing businesses and helping speakers secure a lifestyle they never dreamed of. This is an exciting time to be alive. Take advantage of the opportunities and learn how to use hashtags to find paid speaking gigs.


Social media stalking is totally legal. Well, kinda. I don’t mean creepy stalking that will get you arrested, I’m talking about social stalking people’s profiles and websites.

If they are searching for paid speaking opportunities, find an influencer in your niche and start following them. See where they’re speaking and hanging out.

…like on social, not literally following them around. I don’t want anyone to end up behind bars.

A professional speaker will most likely have a list of events that they will be speaking at in the upcoming months. You can check out their events and reach out to the coordinators.

You can learn so much about people and what they do from their social media profiles, pages, and groups that it is so easy to find speaking opportunities if you try.

The internet, social media and hashtags are a valuable asset to you. Use them and take action. Your calendar will be filling up quickly.


When you attend the conferences and events you want to speak at, you’ll get to know the conference organizers, the audience and decision makers. Once you start hanging with the right crowd, you’ll be able to reach out on social media and mingle with them virtually.

When you can be ‘top of mind’ without being annoying or pushy, you’ll be remembered for when they choose the next round of speakers.

PRO TIP: During live events be sure to take selfies and lots of photos of the event. When the staff and administration come home they will search the hashtag and see your smiling face freely promoting the event and saying nice things.

And unless they hired a professional photographer they may not have had time to take photos and see what the attendees were doing. Be that person that provides value and you’ll be remembered for years to come.

After the event, send an email about your experience.

***Remember, keep it short and sweet.***

They will love hearing from you as it’s fresh in their minds. Provide a testimonial for them to use on their site for next year.


When event planners are searching for speakers they use GigSalad. GigSalad is the fast and easy way to browse, contact, and hire the entertainers and services you need to make any event a success.

How it works:

become a Gigsalad speaker for opportunities

Cool, right?

This is a good way for you to get your feet wet in the speaking industry especially if you’re new and don’t have a ton of experience yet. GigSalad.com would be a good way to get started.

Similar to GigSalad is Thumbtack.

Use Thumbtack to search for speaking opportunities

Additional resources to learn about third party sites.

Episode 52: Should You Use Third Party Sites for Bookings?


Deliver like a boss!

When you speak well and deliver a message that resonates with the audience, people want to hire you. Speaking at live events and crushing it on stage leads to more speaking gigs.

Plain and simple.

This is why speaking is a relationship business. You speak, you ‘work the room’ afterward, you meet influencers and decision makers that want to hire you for their event.

It happens every single day and it’s the best way to build your referrals.

When you can back up a good reputation with a stellar talk, your inbox will be full of paid speaking opportunities.

I’ve been booked for many events because someone saw me speak somewhere. I know several people who won’t book a speaker unless they, or someone they really trust, has seen them speak live.

The best way to find paid speaking opportunities is to show up and do a great job.

Let’s talk about some practical/tangible steps you can take.

A lot of it will depend on the type of event you’re speaking at and who is in the audience.

Early in my career speaking, I was talking to a lot of high school students. They obviously are not the people hiring speakers so I had to reach out to the school administrators.

PRO TIP: You never know who is in the audience. Just because high schoolers aren’t hiring you doesn’t mean someone else in the audience can’t.

For example, the wife of a National Director heard me speak and hired me. Once I was speaking at high school and the daughter of the State Director was in audience — they hired me too.

So how do you strategically get paid speaking gigs by referrals?

1. Tell People You’re a Speaker

As weird as it seems, there’s a lot of people in the audience that may not realize you’re a professional speaker. They think you’re just some random dude/dudette that they decided to have speak.

They don’t even realize you’re a speaker. You have to make that connection for them.


Directly and Indirectly

      • Indirectly — when I was speaking recently at XYZ company. Using stories/case studies/examples of clients or speaking engagements you’ve had.
      • Directly — at the end of your talk, “if you’re interested in having me come speak to your company or at your next event, let me know…”

2. Build an Email List

The best thing you can do is get people on your email list so you have the power and control to reach out to them. This way you can follow up with them instead of waiting for them to follow up with you.

I prefer the proactive approach rather than waiting by the phone for someone to call. Old school, passive approach if you ask me.

Looking for more ways to build your email list?

Check out this episode with Bryan Harris from Video Fruit.

Episode 28: How Speakers Can Grow An Email List, with Bryan Harris

I don’t want to dig deep into list building here. List building is an entire post on its own.

For now, know that list building is the most effective way to build your list of referrals and speaking opportunities.

3. Business Card

This is old fashioned but it works well for speakers. Once people are on your list, then you can begin nurturing that relationship through email. The goal is to stay top of mind with your subscribers.

4. Ask for Referrals

After the event, assuming it went well, ask the event coordinator that booked you if they can make other introductions. You might want to consider including that as part of your contract/agreement.

It’s a way to get more value if you take a discount on your fee.
Keep a long-term perspective. Many of the referrals I get come months and often years later.

For example, yesterday I got a booking request for an event. On our booking form, we ask how they heard about me. Their reply? “I saw you speak 3 years ago at a conference.”

Again, you never know who’s in the audience. That’s why again, I’d stress that your best marketing is doing a great job. That’s what people will remember.

Additional content on building a referral based speaking business.

Episode 30: How to Get Referrals When Speaking

Episode 23:. How to Network with Other Speakers

Episode 121: How to Get Repeat Clients and Referrals, with John Spence


If you’re looking for paid speaking opportunities in your area, try hotel chains. I searched LasVegas.com and it gave me options to Search multiple ways for events.

Searching for paid speaking gigs

You can also plug in date ranges, search by hotel and event types to narrow your search by category niche.

Find paid speaking gigs in any industry

There are so many options when it comes to finding events that you could literally spend hours searching for people or events to reach out to. This is exactly how you should be spending your time!

It takes time and effort, but in the end, you’ll be booked solid and have a list of places and contact that you should be reaching out to often.


You can set up Google Alerts for new content that’s released online. Anytime someone post on Google with those keywords, you’ll get an email.

You can set up alerts for keywords such as “Health Care Conference.” Once you get set this up (it takes 2 seconds) your inbox will be boomin’ with speaking opportunities.

Google Alert Preview

PRO TIP: You might want to set up a separate email account for just Google Alerts. Your inbox might be overwhelming to look at if it’s getting daily emails with opportunities.

If you’re serious about being a paid speaker and creating opportunities for yourself, this requires massive action.

Most people will make the list and leave it for days, months or even years and never take action on that.

You are not one of those people. Take action. I want to hear all about your success.

You ARE someone that will do the search, make the list, and reach out to coordinators.

Now it’s your turn. In the comments, tell me two things:

    1. What industry or niche are you in?

    2. What other ways have you found paid speaking opportunities?

Your Roadmap to a Successful Speaking Career is Here

Roadmap to a Successful Speaking Career

Did you know that most speakers have a successful speaking career because they followed a roadmap (consciously or unconsciously)?

They may not have known they were following a roadmap, but they do. There’s a step-by-step process you can follow that will yield greater, long-term returns.

The only problem is you don’t know the path to take or how to get there. Maybe you’re new to the speaking industry.

If that’s the case, it’s all good! I’ve got you covered. That’s what The Speaker Lab is all about.

The first step is deciding that you want to a be a paid speaker. Awesome!

You want to make the declaration to your family, friends, and co-workers, but you’re afraid they’ll ask you questions you can’t answer right away.

Some of your family members are supportive, yet some are not. I get it, but I too have some questions for you to answer so we can get you on the path to a successful speaking career right away.

Sound good? Great. Let’s get started.

It took me years to figure out The Speakers Success Roadmap and since then, I’ve been testing it out with thousands of speakers — just like you.

And you know what I’ve learned, it works! Time and time again, the roadmap is a blueprint for your growth and success.

You’ll also get bragging rights at the next family party because you’ll be able to clearly answer all the skeptical questions from Aunt Sally and Uncle Sal.

And you can finally stop hating Monday mornings.


Well, it’s an easy to follow, step-by-step roadmap designed to help speakers start and scale a business from the ground up.

It looks a little something like the image below:

It’s easy to remember because it’s the acronym S.P.E.A.K.

Clever right?

If you follow the steps that I’ve laid out below, you’ll be on your way to being a paid speaker and living life on your terms.

No more working for someone else and you can finally stop going in circles trying to figure it all out.

S: Select a Problem to Solve

When trying to figure out what problem you solve you have three areas you can dig into to learn more.

  1. Industry
  2. Interest
  3. Integrity


Who do you want to speak to?

“I want to speak to everyone, Grant.”
“Everyone needs my help.”
“I want everyone to hear my story.”
“I want to help anyone willing to listen, that needs motivation, inspiration, education.”

Ahh, stop right there. No, you don’t.

“If you think you can speak to everyone, you can really speak to no one.”
— The Speaker Lab
Click To Tweet

You can’t talk to anyone that will listen. This is a common mistake I see all the time with speakers.

If you’re having a hard time choosing a niche, here is a list of the 7 most common industries hiring and looking for speakers:

  1. Corporations
  2. Associations (Any group that gathers around a common group or cause)
  3. Faith/Churches
  4. Non-Profits
  5. Government/Military
  6. Colleges/Universities
  7. Education (K-12)

Are you currently working in one of these areas now?
Which area are you most passionate about or have the most knowledge in?

Use the chart below when choosing your industry based on ease of entry and potential earnings.

Once you have your industry decided, choosing which problem to solve will become much easier on your road to becoming a successful solving which problem will be much easier.


What do you want to speak about?

Most people answer with, “Well, what do you want me to speak about?”
When you go to a restaurant, the hostess will give you a menu, right?

What if you walked into a restaurant with no options? Only a blank wall with no menu to choose from.

How would you feel? Lost, hungry, confused, overwhelmed and tired?

Wouldn’t you be skeptical? Isn’t that why we have American, Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, BBQ, and Indian restaurants?

We like options and if I went to a Brazilian steakhouse, I wouldn’t order the seafood.

Same goes for doctors. I wouldn’t think of going to a brain surgeon for a knee replacement.

Pick your niche based on your interest.

If you don’t, you’re wasting your time and people won’t know how to refer you.

Say you love movies, podcasting, and acting. You’ve been on TV as a reality star and you’re a local celebrity. You enjoy speaking but you say, “I’ll talk about whatever you want” to a potential event coordinator.

But here’s the deal: you can’t talk to everyone.

You can’t talk to corporate CEOs, health enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, married couples unless you have experience in those areas.

Now, this same person might be interested in business, health, entrepreneurship and have a relationship advice, but it’s best you stop saying everything because it’s not “everything.”

Stick with something you enjoy talking about. Are you good at tech, web design, landscaping, and horticulture too? Probably not.

Don’t try to be everything to everyone.

You’re not missing out on an opportunity by narrowing your focus.

In fact, it’s the other way around. You’ll be more appealing to more people if you pick an interest and go deep.

Stop trying to be a jack of all trades, and a master of none.

Once you choose a topic and niche ask yourself, “Could I speak on this topic for the next 5 – 10 years?”

And this topic must be a two-way street. Meaning, just because YOU think it’s important doesn’t mean it’s important to your audience.

It has to be something your audience has a problem with and wants a solution to.

A two-way street.
You have to be interested in the topic and others need to know it’s valuable.

And it might be extremely valuable, but if no one believes or knows it yet, no one will show up to hear you speak.

Plus, if you pick a topic and master your talk, your friends, family, and coworkers will think of you immediately when someone needs help with their podcast, sales or relationships.

Friends and family will know how to refer you rather than say, “Yeah I have a friend that likes speaking. If you need someone he will talk about anything.”

Boooo! That sounds horrible and people can’t make the connection.

Do this instead…

You’re talking with a friend at a coffee shop and she says, “I’m hosting an event for singles, do you know anyone that might be interested in speaking at the event?”

“Ah, yes, yes I do know someone… Let me put you in contact.”


Are you qualified to talk about this subject?

“…but Grant, what if I’m not an expert? I feel pretty good about the topic, but there are people that know more about it than I do.”

Let me give you an example, I know nothing about cars. I’m completely clueless.

Expert Speaker

Here’s what makes you an “expert:” You know more about a subject than someone else.

You’re two or three steps ahead of the person asking for help. I know nothing about cars, so the local mechanic is an expert in my eyes. Since he knows more than me, he has car credibility.

“You don’t have to be the best in the world to be considered an expert.”
— The Speaker Lab

At this point, we covered industry, interest, and integrity and you should be thinking about your sweet spot in the middle.

Successful Speaking Career

Is it coming together for you? Solving a problem for your ideal audience takes time to piece the puzzle together. If you’re still not sure, it’s totally normal.

Be patience with yourself. Keep going. You got this.

Now that I’ve explained all 3 I’s and have defined how to Select a Problem to Solve, it’s time to move on to Prepare Your Talk.

P: Prepare Your Talk

Speaking is a true work of art. You can be a natural speaker or you might have to spend years and years perfecting your craft.

Chances are, you might be a little bit of both. You could have that natural ability to speak in front of people, hold their attention and help them see a new perspective with greater clarity, but you might also need to work at this.

Successful people work at what they do. They work endless hours on the “thing” that lights them up. They don’t see it as a job. It’s something that they obsess over until it feels complete.

Speaking does that for me. I would write and recite for hours when I was preparing for a speech. In the beginning, it would take me weeks to finally feel like I had a talk worth delivering.

Now that process is much faster, but I still love the process of speaking, preparing the speech and delivering to the best of my ability.

For an introvert, you wouldn’t think this process would be so fulfilling, but it is. I’ve alway been fascinated by the art of speaking.

Listen, you can’t suck on stage.

You can have the best speech planned, but if you can’t deliver you won’t be successful.

And on the reverse, you can master the delivery, but if the talk sucks, meaning you couldn’t connect the dots for the audience, you’ll never be a successful speaker.

Here are a few resources I’ve compiled for you so you can learn what you need to know when it comes to preparing your talk.

How to Organize Your Talk
What you’ll learn:

  1. How can you organize your thoughts into a talk?
  2. What is a “brain dump”, and how can it help you be organized?
  3. The power of just one line or phrase, and how you can find yours.

How to Create and Refine a Presentation

What you’ll learn:

  1. How to find the best speaking points for your talk.
  2. The “Excel” method of outlining your presentation.
  3. What do you need to change for your different audiences?
  4. How can you use your stories and humor most effectively?

How to Create Your Talk

What you’ll learn:

  1. Why having a single idea makes your preparation easier and your talk better.
  2. What are the types of structures you can use to organize your content?
  3. When to create an outline and why it’s useful.
  4. Why I recommend never “winging it” with your talk.

The Art of Speaking Online Training Course is an all-encompassing program designed to help you crush it on stage. You’ll have everything you need to prepare and deliver the talk of a lifetime.

E: Establish Yourself as an Expert

There are two things you must have to be considered an expert.

  1. A demo video
  2. A website

Without these critical marketing pieces, no one will take you seriously.

After working with hundreds of speakers across the globe, to establish yourself as the expert, people will ask, “Do you have a demo video? What’s your website?”

If you say, “My site is currently under construction or I don’t have one yet.” You must begin building a site and posting your demo video on YouTube, pronto.

Here’s where most speakers make mistakes — they try getting paid gigs and building a site before they know the problem they solve or how to prepare their talk.

You should not be focusing on building a website if you don’t know who you are talking to or what industry you want to speak in.

If you want a successful roadmap, figure out “S” and “P” before you build a fancy website.

What’s more important is that you know the problem you solve and how to prepare your talk.

If you try to jump ahead, you might get lucky, but it won’t last. You’ll eventually have to go back and figure out your problem and how to deliver you talk.

It’s just how it goes. You can try to jump around if you like, but most likely you’ll be back at “S” soon enough.

Ok — you ready to move on? Great. Let’s talk about how to establish yourself as an expert.

Here’s a list of resources to get you started:

How to Setup Your First Speaking Website
How to Choose the Right Environment for You Demo Video

What you’ll learn:

  1. 9 tips for an enjoyable experience with your videographer.
  2. What is a “raw file” and why do you need to request a copy of it?
  3. How to shoot a video without a videographer.

How to Pick Your Domain
What you’ll learn:

  • Should you secure your own name as a website?
  • Where do I recommend purchasing domains?
  • What suffixes should you buy — .com, .net, etc.?

Now that you have a foundation for a website, how do you build a site that looks professional?

I get this question a lot, “Grant, what theme should I buy for my site? I’m not a designer and don’t know what I’m doing.”

I constantly hear people searching for WordPress themes. There are so many to choose from and often times they’re either too robust or lack creative function.

Choosing the right theme can be hard so here’s what I recommend.

It’s called, Podium, a WordPress theme designed with speakers in mind. I mean, it’s named “Podium.”

Podium, a WordPress premium theme for speakers
Isn’t that cool? I know, I’m a pretty clever guy sometimes. I surprise myself.

Install Podium and you can get started building your site today. I’m all about action if you haven’t noticed. 😉


You have your domain name, BlueHost for hosting (affiliate link), you’ve installed WordPress.org and the Podium theme.

Phew! Isn’t this fun? I love seeing you take the first steps to a successful speaking career.

Ok, you have your demo video edited and it’s ready. Your website is “under construction,” but not for long.

You’re ready for the next step.

A: Acquire Paid Speaking Gigs

This is your bread and butter. You’re finally ready to start searching for paid speaking gigs. You have your foundation set and now it’s GO TIME!

IMPORTANT: if you don’t have an email list of contacts or decision makers, word-of-mouth marketing and Google are you best friends.

You have to start building your list of contacts which means you have to build relationships with influencers.

Speaking is a relationship business.

How do you start building relationships with decision makers?


Reach out in an email.
“But Grant, what do I say in the email?”

Introduce yourself and tell them you’re a fan of their work. Give them an example of how their work has made an impact on your life.

Did you read their book?
Have you been to their live event?
Have you changed something about your life as a result of their work?

Tell them.

Don’t make this a long-winded email, but give them the SportsCenter highlights version.

It should take them 20-30 seconds to read the entire email.

They will appreciate you being brief and at that point, you’ve opened the doors for communication. Don’t expect them to reply right away, but if they do.

You have their attention.

But now that you have their attention, DO NOT SELL or say something stupid.

Please, please for the love of all things holy, ***DON’T BOMBARD OR SELL THEM***

You will lose the relationship before it even starts. Take a break and walk away from the laptop, Friend. If you come off pushy and spammy you’ll lose all credibility and the potential of a long-term partnership.

Don’t be annoying on the first date. You won’t get a second chance.

At this point in your speaking career, you’re always building relationships and your list of contacts. This is important for scaling to the next level.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. To have a successful speaking career, it’s imperative that you build relationships.

Want a free cool calculator that will tell you how much to charge for your first or next speaking gig?

Check out How to Determine What You Should Charge! You’re going to love it.

K: Know When to Scale

Well, you made it. This is the last piece to the successful speaker roadmap.

Knowing when to scale your speaking career beyond the stage.

When is it time to go “off the road” and take your knowledge, skills, and experience to a new level with products and services?

I can’t answer that question directly because there is no set time or limit to when and what you can create.

What I can help you with is a list of products (physical or digital) you can create that give you the next level you’re looking for.

So if you’ve been on the road and you’re looking to go beyond with your skills here’s a list of 10 ways you can make money beyond your speaking fee.

  1. Book
  2. Curriculum
  3. Product
  4. Coaching
  5. Consulting
  6. Webinars
  7. Online Training Course
  8. Train the Trainer
  9. Advertisements/Sponsorships
  10. Referrals

Awesome right? There are plenty of ways to build revenue and income streams past the one-time speaking fee at a conference or fundraising event.

Your roadmap to a successful speaking career is here! You’ve made it through all five steps.

Want to take your learning to the next level?

FREE TRAINING: How to Get Booked & Paid to Speak Without Having an Existing Platform or Being Sales-y

I’m proud of you!

How you feelin’? Good? Great? Confused? Ready to conquer the speaking industry?

Now, I’d love to know:

  1. What are your biggest takeaways?
  2. What excites you the most?

Do you have any questions? Comment below.

Speaking Fees: How to Determine What You Should Charge

As a public speaker, keynote speaker or guest speaker, it can be super stressful when it comes to determining what your speaking fees will be.

The questions are endless and the scenarios are vast. You want to start or continue speaking professionally, but often times you don’t know where to begin or what to charge for your next gig.

  • What if this is your 1st or 30th gig?
  • Will the travel expenses be included?
  • Do you consider the location and type of audience?
  • What about the industry?
  • Will you be able to sell anything after the talk?
  • How long do I work for free?

I could go on and on with a number of questions I get on this topic.

I know it can be tough and let me tell you, speaking is not an exact science. The list of questions and scenarios are long and the combinations are endless.

The number one question I get from TSL community is, “What do I charge?”

And the real answer is “it depends,” but no one wants to hear that.

I didn’t either.

You want someone to give you a highly educated “guess” based on your situation. A customizable approach to what you should charge and why.

Well, lucky for you friend, I have just the thing to help you.

There are tons of variables that go into choosing the right fee, but here are some variables YOU should consider when quoting out your price.

The Speaker Lab Fee Calculator

Click Here to Calculate Your Speaker Fee

You’ll answer a few questions based on common variables that speakers use to determine their speaking fee.

***Remember, setting your speaker fee schedule is more of an art than a science.***


These numbers are not set in stone. They are here to get you started. If you feel the number is too high and you “could never charge that,” then don’t, but what if you did?

What if someone actually said, “yes” and paid you that higher rate?

Think about it, maybe you don’t feel comfortable charging that, YET, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

If you’re not ready, you’re not ready, but don’t sell yourself short either. I’m not going to dig into money mindset on this, I’ll save that for another post.

Know that all things are possible.

Never say never. ...but I digress.

Use the calculator as a gauge to get a ballpark number. At the end of the day, charge what you’re most comfortable with. When it comes to creating your pay rate as a new or experienced speaker, use this fancy tool as your guide.

You can also reuse this calculator again and again with different scenarios as you learn and advance as a professional speaker. I wish I had this calculator when I first started out.

Click Here to Calculate Your Speaker Fee

You can thank me in Dr. Pepper later!

Let me show you how this breaks down.


I’m starting with $1,500 as a base/minimum for speaking. You can certainly choose to accept less, but $1,500 is a good starting point for most speakers.

Let’s say you’re speaking 2 times at an event. You’d charge a flat fee (~$1,500) for one talk and a little more (~$500) per additional talk. Your time and expertise are valuable so you should be charging as such.

The more times you speak, the more you should be paid. You’ve spoken between 11-50 times in your career, so you should be compensated for your experience.

Now, I’ve known people to do 30 talks in 60 days because they wanted to gain experience and fast. And that approach may work for some of you, but just because you've spoken a lot doesn't necessarily make you a great speaker.

I’ve seen plenty of speakers that have done a lot of speaking, but they still suck.


Sorry, but that’s the truth!

Increase your skills, practice new techniques, get better over time, and learn from those that came before you.

Study why you felt inspired and captivated by their public presence. Soon enough you’ll know and understand what they’ve done, how they made you feel, and then you can repeat that process in your own career.

Think about it, you’ll be the most sought-after guy or gal in your industry. 🙂

On the flip side, typically with experience, you become better.
The more you speak, the better you get — The better you get, the more you charge.

You catch the drift.


Say you’re speaking to an industry filled with corporate professionals. You’re able to charge more based on the perceived value of your information, plus the fact that for-profit organizations have larger budgets to spend on conferences and events.

Who you’re talking to matters.

If you’re speaking to a non-profit organization the rate would significantly differ compared to a corporate powerhouse.

Click Here to Calculate Your Speaker Fee



Perhaps you’ll need to fly to the event, which means you’ll have more expenses like car rental, taxi, parking meals etc.

On average, you can charge an additional $750 for long distance gigs.

Now, this expense could be more, it could be less, but this is an average industry standard. There is a lot of room for negotiation here.

Knowing what questions to ask is critical in determining your travel expenses. Again, the numbers in the calculator don’t account for everything. You have room to wiggle here so use your judgment.


No one tells you how awful the accommodations can be when you travel, especially when you’re in no-man's-land for a gig.

Those are the nights you want to cry yourself to sleep in the rental car with the windows down in February.

Anything would be better than a rock hard bed, a dirty bathroom, and a floor filled with trash from who knows when.

I’ll spare you the gory details and disgusting stories. But trust me when I say you need to ask about accommodations before you say “yes” to your next speaking engagement.

With that being said, you’ve done your research and checked out the hotels in the area. Luckily, they all have a 4-5 star rating!

You lucky dog, you.

You happily agree and confirm that you’ll need overnight accommodation. At that point, you’ll need to negotiate that into your fee or choose where you’d like to stay — within reason.

You can’t charge them for the Hotel Heaven when they have a Motel Hell budget.

Click Here to Calculate Your Speaker Fee



We all know that in the real estate industry, location is everything. I feel the same for booking speaking gigs too.

If I’m invited to speak at an event in Spain and I’ve always wanted to go there, I’d be more likely to decrease my speaking fee.

Why might you ask? If I have to fly to Spain and my travel expenses are significantly more, shouldn’t I be charging more?

Well, that depends on how you look at it.

In my opinion, if the location is amazing and Spain has been on my bucket list for decades, I’d be more inclined to lower my speaking fee just to attend.

If you price yourself out of the water due to traveling across the world, you’re possibly allowing your dreams to slowly fade away.

Please don’t let that happen.
Take less, find the money and embrace the experience. What you charge doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that you get your butt on that plane and carpe diem, my Friend!

Say YES, call your spouse, book the flight — find a way.
And if you’re a beach bum and there’s an event in Aruba — find a way.
Oh, you’re a ski bum and Vail is calling your name — find a way.

Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses. It’s why you do what you do. You want to make a living doing what you love.

Take those chances, embrace the opportunities and make a difference with your message.

As a side note, if you’re organizing an event, please pick a cool place that people would want to go to.

Create an experience that people will remember and enjoy year after year.

Click Here to Calculate Your Speaker Fee



I’m not talking about the song from Beauty and the Beast. I’m talking about speaking at an event that you’ll already be a guest at. If you plan on attending the event you’ve been asked to speak at, you could lower your speaking fee or simply have them comp your visit.

No harm in breaking even!

Bonus. No-brainer. Where do I sign? If they’re willing to pay for your entry ticket, hotel room, food, happy hour etc. or any of the above, you're in like Flynn.

Can I get a fist bump?


There are pros and cons to working for free. There comes a time when you must provide food, clothing, and shelter for yourself and your family.

Working for free doesn’t pay the bills.

You want to be paid for your time, energy and expertise, and rightfully so.

So say you have a gig and the event coordinator is telling you, “you’re allowed to sell” and you’ll have the prime keynote spot.

Now you’ve been at this for awhile and you most likely have a few things lined up behind the scenes in way of products and services. If not, (and you're new to the speaking industry) this is definitely something to consider down the road.

What should you charge if you’re able to sell your products before, during or after your talk?
Will the venue or host organization take a portion of the sales?
What percentage of the sales?

The list of questions goes on and on…

Meet Marc.

Marc is a member of the TSL community and he speaks for free.

Free, you say? Yes, free.

This entire post is helping you figure out what to charge for your speaking engagements and you’re telling me this guy works for free.

I know, seems counterintuitive, but hear me out.
Here’s the deal.

Marc is a 6-figure business owner that speaks for free. Why?

Because Marc only books gigs where he has the potential to sell his high-level coaching services before, during or after his speech. He’s very strategic about his business, his audience, and is confident he can deliver time and time again.

Now Marc didn’t start doing this on day one of his speaking career. My point is, you don’t have to charge thousands of dollars to become a successful, paid speaker. You could charge NOTHING and still bring home the bacon in other ways.

Click Here to Calculate Your Speaker Fee



In a nutshell, it generally doesn't matter whether you're giving a talk to 50 or 500 people. Your effort is more or less the same.

You’re still spending the same amount of time, energy and expertise on planning, developing, practicing and delivering your speech.

If you’re talking to 5 people or 500 people the prep and practice are the same. Now if you’re speaking to 5 people, your approach could be a little more relaxed and conversational, but if you’re talking to 500 people then your energy needs to be much higher and bigger.

Here’s where audience size DOES matter.

  1. If you're selling a digital or physical product, audience size does matter. For example, the bigger the crowd the more potential sales there are, so you might be willing to take less money for a larger audience because you’ll make it up on the back-end.
  2. If there are any hard costs associated with your talk. Meaning, if every attendee needs a workbook and you’re covering the costs, it's going to make a big difference if there are 50 or 500 people in the room.

Like I said in the beginning, speaking is not an exact science. There are tons of variables that go into the determining your speaking fees.

Use the fancy calculator below and I’d love to know:

  1. What’s your calculated speaking fee?
  2. How do you feel about that number?

Click “Start” to Begin!

LaMorris Crawford speaking at an event

How to Create a Demo Video That Gets You Booked to Speak

This is a guest post written by Erin Lashley, who has a business helping speakers shoot, edit, and create demo videos to help promote their business. A solid demo video is one of the best marketing tools a speaker can have! Erin goes in-depth here to teach you what to include in your own. Take it away, Erin 😉

Meet LaMorris.

LaMorris Crawford is a 35-year-old married man with 4 beautiful children.

Having come from an impoverished childhood, he has overcome incredible odds.

His mother was murdered at the age of 17.

His uncle was murdered at the age of 17.

His aunt, at the age of 15, caught a brain tumor and died.

His aunt at the age of 28 was drugged up by her boyfriend and died.

He never knew his father and was raised by his grandmother.

He has faced A LOT of hard things…but has overcome all of them.

In 2003 LaMorris decided he wanted to start a career in speaking.

For 9 years he HUSTLED…but without a demo video.

In 2012, LaMorris asked me to create another demo video for him.

The first one was him speaking to a camera and the second was him speaking to a group of athletes about character.

Check it out:

Now, get this. The same year I did the demo video for the LaMorris is the same year he got hired by the NFL as Chaplain of the Cincinnati Bengals. THE SAME YEAR!

Having a demo video drastically increased my speaking engagements. Today, I’m an NFL Chaplain and also speak over 200 times a year across the United States.” – LaMorris Crawford

Let’s be honest.

That’s great for LaMorris.

But what about YOU?

How did his demo video lead him to speak for the NFL?

This secret can be broken down into 4 Must-Haves to every great demo video:

  1. Hook me – captivate your audience from the start.
  2. Show me – show yourself speaking in front of an audience.
  3. Prove me – use testimonials to prove your effectiveness.
  4. Close me – close the sale and give a clear call to action.

Easy-peasy-pumpkin-breezy. Now let me show you exactly how, but first I must explain…


Over the last 5 years, I’ve developed a special interest in demo videos because I believe editing is an art.

The look, the feel, the music, the content…all play a vital role in the END goal.

When you’re creating a demo video, the first thing you need to ask yourself is WHAT IS THE GOAL?

What do you want your audience to DO?

Is it pick up the phone and hire you to speak?

If so…what do they need to FEEL in order to bring them to that action?

Better yet…what do they need to be THINKING ABOUT…in order to FEEL that feeling…and bring them to that action?

That’s why when you’re selecting music…you don’t just pick good music…

You have to pick something that compliments your end goal.

What music is going to get them in a certain frame of mind…to feel a certain thing…to do a certain thing?

What story are you telling?

What colors are you using to tell your story?

Now, this process of think, feel, and do is a formula I use to create amazing demo videos.



The first 60 seconds should showcase you as a speaker in a variety of settings and platforms.

This portion must captivate the viewer and get them interested in who you are and what you have to say.

If you don’t have footage of yourself speaking in different settings…

Open up the video with something that’s going to keep them listening.

For example, in the beginning of LaMorris’s demo video, he opens up talking about the most dramatic parts of his childhood…

So shocking, you want to keep listening…


The next 2-3 minutes should SHOW the viewer HOW you speak and what value you add when you speak.

This should Include powerful snippets from your best talks in this portion.

For example, check out the way youth speaker, LaVell Griffin, makes his main points…

His principles are short, powerful, and to the point:

He does an amazing job of knowing exactly what his walk away points are and communicates them in short snippets that make it easy to capture on camera.


The next 60 seconds should be testimonials.

These stories are proof that people enjoy hearing you speak and actually learn something when you speak.

The more specific the results, the better.

The answers you receive are determined by the questions you ask.

Here are three questions you can ask for stellar testimonials!

1. What, specifically, was your favorite part about ________ and why?

2. If you were to recommend _________ to your best friend, what would you say?

3. What’s one thing you want to do differently after listening to __________?


The last 60 seconds should validate interest in your content and testimonials by showing more clips of you speaking and interacting with people.

I recommend including a website, phone, or email for people to use to book you to speak.

This is the finale.

This is your last chance to get me to act upon how I think and feel.

Once again I want you to take a look at LaMorris’s video.

The last lines in his video are so inspirational.

It purposefully leaves you wanting more.

Notice the text at the END of the video (start at 3min 9sec):

The last lines in his video are so inspirational.

It purposefully leaves you wanting more.

Notice the text at the end of the video…

“Your athletes need it. Your community needs it.”

It makes you think…

What do they need?

Which leads you to answer your own question.

They need Character In Athletes. They need LaMorris Crawford.

What you’re reading confirms what you’re thinking and feeling.

And it drives you to DO something about it.

So let’s review.

Great demo videos are made up of 4 must haves:

  1. Hook me — hook the viewer with something that keeps them watching.
  2. Show me — show the viewer what it’s like to be in the audience when you speak.
  3. Prove me — give testimonials that prove to the viewer that people like you and you make a difference.
  4. Close me — Make the ending so good, so believable, so compelling, that it compels the viewer to respond.

That’s really it.

Guess what? Keynote speaker (and trainer) Michael Port is offering a one-day workshop to create a done-for-you demo video with a professional crew at the Engelman Recital Hall in New York next month! Click here to learn more (and grab your spot before they sell out).

39 Things You Need To Know About Me (Grant Baldwin)

Fun fact: there is a ton of information on the internet… seriously. You probably have a few favorite websites you visit on a regular basis, and it can become easy to just read words on a screen and forget that behind the words, there is actually a person communicating to you.

Yes, a real person―no robots involved!

Since I claim to be a real person, I’m going to assume you are one as well. Because of that, I want you to know a bit about who I am.

Some of these things you may already know, but hopefully you will learn a few things that will surprise you!

Here goes, this is the real me (39 facts)!

  1. I’m 35 – In my 20s, people always told me I was older than I looked. Now though, people guess my age a little more accurately, so either I’m catching up or they are getting better. With each birthday, I also compare myself way too much to where other people my age are in life. I shouldn’t worry about it, but I do.
  2. I’m married to my high school sweetheart – I was a pretty big flirt as a teenager but thankfully, I found “the one” early in life. We started dating when I was a 15 year old freshman (she was a 17 year old junior…ahhh yeah :). At the time of this writing, we’ve been together over 18 years (dated 5, married 13). And if you’re doing the math, yes, I got married when I was 20. My wife is amazing. My best friend on the planet. We make a great team. And I’m still ridiculously crazy about her.
  3. My parents are divorced – When I was in middle school, my parents split up. At the time, it really messed with me. I didn’t really know any other parents who were divorced. My wife’s parents also split up while we were dating. Divorce sucks. My wife and I have a really good marriage, but the bottom line is that marriage is still really freaking hard.
  4. I have 3 daughters – As a guy, I actually really wanted a son. I’ve got a great relationship with my dad, so I was hoping to be able to have the same with my own son, but it didn’t happen. And in the end, I couldn’t be happier. I have 3 amazingly awesome daughters (Sydnee is 10, Emilee 8, and Mylee 6) that are each unique and special in their own way. At this point, I don’t think I’d know what to do with a son. I’m having too much fun with my princesses.
  5. I worry about being a good dad – I lucked out in having great parents. I still have a wonderful relationship with both of them. But I really enjoy my work so I often fear I spend more time on it than I should and not enough time with my daughters.
  6. I’m the oldest of three – I have a younger brother and sister who are both super cool. We’re each very different and yet very similar in a lot of ways. My brother moved to New York City several years ago and has built a career in the tech space. He currently works for Buzzfeed and is crushing it. He is also gay. He came out several years ago and at the time, it really messed with me. I’ve come a long way though in learning to accept and love him for him. I have a younger sister who is a successful graphic designer (she designs literally all my stuff). She is super talented. She has a little girl (2 years old) named Penelope (we call her Poppi) who is adorable. I’ve got cool siblings.
  7. I went to Bible college (and part of me regrets it) – I always wanted to be a youth pastor, so Bible college was the next logical step. But to be honest, I was really involved in my church and felt like I learned a lot more there than sitting in a classroom. I do have a bachelor’s degree, but it has little to do with the work I’m doing now. As my own kids get older, I wrestle with the value of college.
  8. I used to be a youth pastor – My youth pastor had a big impact on my life, so I wanted to do the same. Working in a church though is actually really hard. I got a glimpse of how the sausage is made, and it’s not always pretty. However, my youth pastor experience (although not always positive) really helped shape what I do today.
  9. I’m a Christian – I grew up in church and being from the midwest, I’m in the heart of the Bible belt. I think my faith has evolved and grown over the years, but I still believe in Jesus and make an effort to follow Him with my life.
  10. I’m a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan – Growing up in Missouri, you pretty much are born a Cards fan. In 2011, I went to Game 7 with my dad to see them win the World Series. Huge life highlight. Here’s my reaction to watching Game 6 of that series…
  11. I can be a really big jerk sometimes – Generally I think I’m fairly nice. But sometimes I know I can be a jerk. Sometimes I blow people off or get frustrated at someone even though the issue may not be their fault. Ugh.
  12. I don’t drink – Like I mentioned, I grew up in a fairly conservative world, so drinking was always a bit taboo. But as an adult, although I’ve become a bit more tolerant of it, I’m just not a fan. I don’t like the taste, and it generally doesn’t have a positive affect on people. And it’s expensive, and I’m cheap.
  13. I’m frugal/thrifty/cheap – Even though we make a decent living, I’m still pretty frugal/thrifty/cheap. I hate wasting money. It was only recently that my wife and I started getting our own drinks at restaurants and not secretly sharing one. Baby steps, people.
  14. I worry a lot about failing – I’m fairly confident in my abilities, but I also worry that at any moment it could all come crumbling down. I want to think my business is stable and secure, but I also feel like it’s a house of cards at times.
  15. I had an eBay business selling purses – Years ago my wife and I started dabbling in eBay and somehow started selling high end, name brand purses. We shipped things all over the world. It was pretty cool. At one time, I knew a lot about Coach handbags. Don’t judge.
  16. I spend too much time comparing myself to others – I want to be successful. I’m pretty motivated and driven. There’s no real metric to know if you’re doing good or not, so I often look to my left and right to see how I stack up against my peers. It’s not a fair measurement for them or me, but I still find myself doing it.
  17. I’ve been to 48 states but very little travel outside the US – Maine and South Carolina. Those are the two I’m missing. But for all the travel I’ve done, it’s limited to just North and Central America.
  18. I still get nervous before speaking – I get that question a lot. I’m usually nervous for the first few seconds. Those first few moments on stage tell me how the rest of the talk will go.
  19. I’m an introvert – I prefer being by myself. When I travel, I don’t want to interact with people. I keep my head down and headphones on. When I’m home, I’m almost always with family. I’m not really a social person.
  20. I’m not very compassionate – I generally think most issues in life are caused by our own decisions (both good and bad). Because of that, I know I’m not really sympathetic or compassionate to people. If you don’t like your life, then fix it. I should probably loosen up a bit on that stance.
  21. I can be arrogant – I have moments when I think I’m better than other people. It’s stupid and childish and dumb, but I still catch myself doing it sometimes.
  22. My wife and I are debt free – We had about $30k in debt when we got married. When we were in our early 20s, we finally got serious and intentional about our money and paid off all our debt in two years. Today, we still live on a budget and remain debt free (other than a mortgage on our house). Being debt free has allowed us more options and freedom in our life than just about anything else we’ve done.
  23. We homeschool our kids – At the time of this writing, this is our 4th year doing the homeschool thing. Truthfully, my wife does 99% of it. I’m just the awkward PE teacher who flirts with the principal way too much. We started homeschooling so we could spend more time with our kids. We think the school system is pretty broken, and we could do just as good if not better. Homeschooling is a lot of work, but it’s been incredibly rewarding for our family.
  24. I keep a bucket list – I have a written bucket list that is currently at about 50 things I want to do before I die. I’ve accomplished about 11 of them so far. I know of 2 (maybe 3) more I’ll check off this year.
  25. I don’t enjoy writing – Writing doesn’t come easy to me. It’s a lot of work. But I see the value in it, so I try to do it. Writing helps me process and think things through.
  26. I like doing puzzles – I like the challenge of them. And I’m introverted, so this works well for me. You can see my Instagram feed for a bunch I’ve done.
  27. I’m not a workaholic, but I work a lot – There are days that it’s just work, but for the most part, I really enjoy what I do. I try to find a good balance between being a good husband and father but also hustling to provide a great life for my family. Some days I do find that balance. Other days, I work way too much.
  28. I’ve done several endurance races – I’ve finished 2 marathons, 6 half marathons, and 4 triathlons. I’m not fast at all, but I like the sense of accomplishment. And they’re bucket list items.
  29. I know very little about investing – I like to think I’m fairly smart, but I know little about investing. I understand the general idea of how it works, but there’s a bunch of seemingly basic stuff I just don’t get.
  30. I don’t read as much as I should – I go through spurts where I may read a bunch and times I may read very little. Last year, I probably read 5 books. Less than a month into this year, I’ve already finished 2, so we’re on a good track now.
  31. I’ve had the same haircut since 3rd grade – My mom let me shave my head in elementary, and I’ve just always had that haircut. It’s so much simpler than having to fix my hair everyday. Plus, I don’t think I’ve ever paid for a haircut. Like literally ever. It’s always been done by my mom or my wife.
  32. I’m not real patient (I hate crowds and long lines) – When I get impatient, the jerk part of me likes to come out. Whether it be at an airport or amusement park, I hate crowds and long lines.
  33. I’m scared of snakes – I can tolerate spiders, but snakes creep me out.
  34. Politics are uninteresting to me – It’s all so dumb to me. I think what a few big wigs in Washington decide has little effect on my life, so I generally don’t pay much attention to it.
  35. I enjoy travel hacking – Between my wife and I, we have 51 different accounts for airline, hotel, and credit card reward points. Combined, we have over 2 million miles and points for travel. I told you I’m cheap.
  36. I want to have a model train set someday – I don’t know why, but I’ve always thought model train sets are so cool. I want to build one someday.
  37. I’m confident I’ll be successful – I’ve always felt like I would be successful. I don’t know if that’s confidence or arrogance or just being naive, but I really feel like if I just keep hustling and working hard, I’ll be successful.
  38. I eat way too much sugar – I’ve got a ridiculous sweet tooth. It’s not healthy. Sometimes I worry it’ll really affect me in life.
  39. I want you to like me – Like most, I’m a people-pleaser. I want you to like me. I want you to be impressed by me. I want you to think I’m somebody. If I get 99 nice emails but one negative one, I’ll beat myself up over the one.

Alright, that’s enough confession for now… Maybe you can identify with some of those quirks and insecurities. Maybe they help you see you’re not alone.

So that’s me. What about you? I’d love to hear a fun, random fact about you. Leave it in the comments below or click here to email me. I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks to my friends Corbett Barr and Omar Zenhom for their own posts that inspired this one.