How to navigate the 10 biggest distractions for speakers

The Speaker Lab Logo

Looking for practical advice and training from the world’s most successful speakers? The Speaker Lab Podcast features business tactics, tips, and strategies from the world’s most successful speakers. We post transcripts of every episode as resources to help you build your speaking business.

Maryalice Goldsmith: Rick, how you doing today?

Rick Clemons: Pretty good. Great day to be having some conversations about distractions. I’m glad you said, “Hey, let’s talk about this subject matter.”

MG: Yeah. I mean, building a speaking business, there’s so many components to that. Between the art of it, the craft of it, and then the systems and operations of it. But then there’s all these other outside forces like,  “I should have a podcast, I need all the social media channels and I need a website,” and so on and so forth. So this is what we want to tackle because I think one of the things we do really well here at the Speaker Lab is keeping our students in their lane and letting them know that it’s okay to say “No” to certain things so that you can say “Yes” to the most important next thing in your speaking business. So we’re gonna dive into these ten things and there’s no specific order.

#1: Social Media

But we’re gonna start with the first one being social media. So let’s really  unpack this because what is there, like a million social media channels? Life was much easier when it was just like MySpace.

RC: I get so distracted at times. I’m trying not to beat up any particular one, but  then they change the algorithm so then you have to go figure this out. And then they say, well, this is how this is gonna work now. And then, before you know it, you’re halfway through the day and it’s like, “I should have been rehearsing my talk” or ” I was supposed to call this client and finalize a contract.”

If you’re getting distracted on social media and you forget to finalize a contract, you have a little bit of an issue there.

MG: Yeah. I think the big thing with social media – there are some students that we have that are not using it at all. So there’s that. A little risky, but they’re doing it.

I think it’s really important to be where your audience is. So that doesn’t mean that you should be on all the platforms. So the best thing that you can do today is learn the different platforms and really understand is your ideal audience hanging out there? And if they’re hanging out on Instagram and Facebook maybe just choose one to start and really build a following and nurture your audience on just one to get started, but it doesn’t mean you need to be on all of them. I think that’s really important.

RC: Well, the audience is an interesting thing too, because you have the audience that’s actually the audience sitting in a talk listening to you, but you have the audience who is the person that is hiring you too.

So I always couch it this way. You want to be where the person who’s hiring you can kind of get a feel for who you are, which could be anywhere, but I think for most professional speakers, LinkedIn is one of the best places. But you also don’t want to ignore the people who are going to be sitting in your audience because they can become your evangelists. But that doesn’t mean, “Okay, let’s go be all these places.”  For me, Instagram is really my space, no pun intended there, but that’s where I know I do really well. I am playing around with TikTok a little bit and starting to go, “Wow, I’m actually getting some notice there.”

But focus on those two things – the person who’s gonna hire you and the actual audience, but don’t spread yourself so thin you can’t get anything done.

#2: Influencers Influencing

MG: Number two is “Be careful about overly following your influencer or the speaker that has gone before you, like your Tony Robbins or your Mel Robbins. You have to be really careful to make sure that – they always say comparing your chapter one to their chapter 23 – just because they have a podcast and a website and they speak at all different conferences for all different types of audiences, that doesn’t mean that’s what your business is ready for. So really being careful about how you follow influencers – it’s okay to follow them and learn from them, but trying to implement what they’re doing in your business could be a major distraction and hold you back and be a total time suck.

RC: In that comparison thing too, and you alluded to this, don’t look at them when you’re just getting started out. I mean, yes, it’s great to look at them and go, “Okay, how could I do this?” But as a podcaster, I went through this for a little bit and I was like, “But I’m not getting -” and of course I’m not getting downloads like some of these other people. I’m not a known entity. And even now the numbers I get, I mean, some people go, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you get those kind of numbers.” I’m like, well, yeah, but they’re not as big as other people’s but I’m actually okay with that because I know my podcasts are so niche  that I wouldn’t expect it to be like millions of downloads.

So trust where you are. Look, learn, but only look, learn, and implement where it makes the most sense when it’s the right time for you to implement things.

#3: Beware the Naysayers

MG: So number three: be careful of the naysayers. Not everybody understands what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, why you’re quitting that secure job that you have to become a professional speaker and build an amazing business that fulfills your passion. So be really careful. And to be honest, they’re the friends and the family that love you the most, and they do love you, but they may not understand why you’re doing this, and it’s just something that they could never imagine doing. It doesn’t mean it’s not right for you, so be really careful about letting them infiltrate your mindset and your dreams and your goals. I think that’s really important.

RC: Well, the interesting thing about the naysayers too, and you just said it, is it’s something they can’t see themselves doing, but where I feel like we all get trapped in this – whether it’s about building our business or living our life however we want to live it, et cetera – is what somebody says is all about them, what you hear is all about you. And so the minute you can really break that down, that’s a coaching principle I learned in my coach training, but it’s always stuck with. It’s something that when I get in my worst spaces at times I’m like, “Wait, wait, wait. Stop, pull back, pull back.” You’re letting whatever somebody says as it’s all about you and how you’re hearing that. What they’re saying is all about them, and that’s okay. All those things can work together.

But what happens is, is when we start taking what somebody says as the gospel truth, then, which actually leads to the next thing I think we’re gonna dive into, it’s no wonder that our imposter goes through the roof. But here’s the interesting twist on that. I feel like what somebody else is saying, guess where that’s coming from? It’s coming from their imposter telling them, “I could never do that. I could never, so you know what? Mary Alice shouldn’t be doing that either.” It’s such an interesting twist when we can break that down and realize it. I went through this quite a bit until I finally realized, you know what, I’m just a guy with an idea and a message and a way of being in the world that I’m gonna own this. And it took me a long time to own it. I had a few good influencers and friends in podcasting and coaching and speaking who beat me up about until I realized, “You know what I have something that’s worthwhile to the people that it’s worthwhile to. I’m not gonna be worthwhile to everybody.” And that’s a big thing to get out of our egos when yes, there’s the Mel Robbins and the Tony Robbins and all that, but I can guarantee you there are people who aren’t Tony Robbins fans or Mel Robbins.  And there’s just lots of different people and it’s okay. This is why we each have our own lane to go stay in and play in.

MG: And, like you’re saying, we’re not for everyone. Everyone’s not for us. But the way that we say it and the way that we share our stories and our experiences, it’s going to resonate with our people, our perfect people. But I think too, with the naysayers, this is where ongoing personal development is so critical as an entrepreneur. As you’re building this business it is a zigzag line. It is highs and lows every day, from the minute you wake up to the minute you go to sleep. It’s not steady Eddie, that is for sure. And so having yourself entrenched in some kind of a book or a mastermind or coaching, really surrounding yourself with like-minded people is really critical to combat the naysayers in your world for sure.

#4: Imposter Syndrome

MG: So number four, we kind of touched on this a little bit, is imposter syndrome. And we get this so much. As coaches we hear this, this is a common thing and in the last couple of years when a student says, “Oh, I’m really struggling with imposter syndrome,” I used to be like, oh gosh, that’s such a shame. And now I’m like, “That’s awesome” because that really means that you’re playing to another level. Imposter syndrome is not necessarily a negative thing. It’s all the way that we perceive it. It’s really that sign, that intuition, that insight like, “Hey, you’re, you’re playing bigger. This is an area we’ve never been before and it’s a little scary.” And it should be, right?

If you swam in waters that you’ve never swam in before, it’s going to be a little scary. That’s just the way it goes. And the same thing with building your business. There’s going to be these moments where you are pulling yourself up to your next level and it can be scary because it’s the unknown. What if I fail? What if this doesn’t go the way I want it to go? And I always say to people, “What’s the worst thing that can happen? And if that was to happen, will you survive?” And the answer’s always yes. And that simple little question really does combat imposter syndrome. So ask yourself that. When when you’re struggling with imposter syndrome, ask yourself what’s the worst thing that can happen?

And then ask yourself, if it happens, will I survive?

RC: Also realizing it’s interesting that we’re having this conversation because I just came from one of our weekly focus group calls and this came up cause we were talking about crafting your talk and everything. And one of the students posted “But I don’t feel like I’m an expert in anything.”

And I say what I always say. Every one of us is a practical application expert on what we have gone through in our lives. And for most of us, that’s why we step into the speaking realm. We wanna talk about our journey as an entrepreneur or our journey through divorce or entrepreneurship or any of these different things that show up for all of us – weight loss, et cetera. But I don’t know a whole lot of us that have a doctorate in weight loss. So finding your way through this and realizing for the person who most needs to hear it – and this is part of what we do as as speakers, is we gotta fish around and figure out where’s my best audiences for these things – but as soon as you can marry your practical experience with the audience, that’s when you start to thrive.

And trust me, I’ve been on numerous stages, so has Maryalice, and I can guarantee you, even when I get on a new stage, there’s always just a hint of that imposter and I just kind of go, come on Rick, you’ve done this before. Just go do it. Go be of service.

MG: Yeah, I think you touched on something really valuable there.

Would you wanna go and hear someone speak that studied it in a book or would you wanna go and hear someone speak who actually went through the experience and came out the other side? I think nine times out of ten, we would want that person who could relate to us, really understand the emotions behind what we’re going through or what we want in our life, versus someone who, you know, read a couple of books and took some notes and a test and passed 90% or higher. Right? That experience really makes us the masters, the PhDs of that topic. There’s certain things, and I talk about this with our virtual VIP  program, you know, there’s certain things that are really hard to sell. And when you’re talking about the virtual VIP program, you’re looking at practitioners, people who are on the ground working their business in real time. That’s a hard thing to sell, right? Because it’s happening in real time and it’s hard to put that in perspective. And so when you’re thinking about imposter syndrome and you’re thinking, I don’t have that certification, I don’t have that education. Remember, if you have the experience, usually that’s going to be more profound for your audience members than if you were a doctor of the experience or the topic. I think experience is so much more profound because I want to know that you could relate to me and then teach me how to get through or get to what my goals are.

RC: And a lot of people don’t realize that, going back to the influencers piece, if you’re scrolling through Instagram or somewhere and you’re seeing an influencer and you’re like, “Well, of course I knew how to do that in Excel.” Somebody doesn’t. And so if you can stand in front of a group of 200 people teaching them, here’s how you do Excel and you’re like, “Okay, well here’s what you do. You did this, you did this, then you do this, you did this.” And there’s no personal experience. Like, “So let me tell you the story about what happened the first time I’m like, I’m not gonna let anybody know that I didn’t know how to use Excel. And then suddenly I screwed up an entire worksheet that the team had created and been using for years. So let me tell you, the one thing I learned really quickly is this one thing.  Command S – save.”

That story’s gonna be so much more effective than, “So if you ever wanna save anything, you just hit command S.” But because I put it into a story format, and that wasn’t true about me, but I’ve seen people do this. I’ve watched some amazing like “I’m teaching really boring stuff and this isn’t gonna be interesting” and they make it completely interesting because they bring their own experience.

MG: Yeah, I think when it comes to imposter syndrome, it’s really important to take a step back and think about what has brought you here? What is encouraging you or motivating you to get on this stage?

One of the things our successful speakers always say is they recommend the Speaker Lab, if you have a story to tell, if you want to make an impact. The majority of our speakers have both, right? And so when you think about imposter syndrome you really have to take some personal inventory about what led you here, what has brought you to this moment. And then you have to just really pat yourself on the back, get yourself on that stage and go for it. But it’s going to be with you, like you said, it’s going to be with you and I think it’s a great way to stay humble and really have some gratitude about being able to walk on stage, live out your dream, help others live their dream and make an impact.

And so we can’t forget all of that. It’s really important. So, again, careful who you’re following and what you’re trying to compare yourself to. Watch those naysayers, because this all feeds that imposter syndrome, really does.

What’s the book? I can’t remember it. But she talks about how, you know, when ego rears its ugly head, and that’s basically imposter syndrome. You know, saying it’s like the light side versus the dark side. So the dark side, your ego saying “You can’t do this. What are you, crazy?” You know? Then the light side can actually calm ego down by just saying, “Hey, I got you. We’re good.” So she does this comparison like she’s in the car and ego keeps messing with the radio and she’s like, “All right, backseat. I control the radio, I control the noise. You can come with me, but you’re not allowed to control the noise.”

And so just having that little visual in your head when ego rears its head and saying, you’re not enough. This is not your time. You shouldn’t be doing this. You know, really saying, I got you. You can come along for the ride, but you’re not allowed to control the volume and the noise in my mind. That’s one way to kind of shift that mindset.

RC: One of the best ways I’ve seen to combat the ego. Yeah, I think it is The Big Idea. The ego is such an interesting thing. And again, this is coming from my coach training. My instructor said, “Your ego is there to do one thing. It’s to get stuff done.” That’s what it does. It pays the bills. It says, this is when you need to eat. It says, this is when you need to make sure the house – it’s like if you can put your ego in that space of, it’s there to keep the checks in balance, but it’s not there to like discern and tell you what’s right or wrong per se. There is a little right or wrong in there because if you don’t lock the door, then maybe your house could be – but it’s so easy when you realize the ego is just like, “This get this done. This is what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to have this done. You’re supposed to have . . .”

Suddenly the way you think about your ego becomes completely different. And I think for many of us as speakers, okay, get the contracts out. Yes. Your ego’s making sure, did you send that contract? Did you make that phone call? Did you do this? It’s not saying, “You’re an idiot. You see, you’re not even brave enough to do this.” In fact, I was doing this with a student earlier this morning and it was so interesting because he is like, “I just can’t seem to break past this procrastination.” And I said, “The procrastination is simply this: you don’t trust yourself. So start trusting yourself. Simple. That’s all you gotta do. Trust yourself.”  And he’s like, “It can’t be that simple.” And I’m like, well, it can, but you’ve got to trust that it can be that simple and move forward. So I think ego is such an interesting thing and we could do a whole talk on that stuff.

MG: I actually think when imposter syndrome rears its ugly head, we tend to try to do more. And so this leads us into number five.

#5: Doing It All

One of the big distractions that I see is people trying to do all the things in order to have this perfect business. I want to be a speaker, so I have to write the book. I have to have all my social media channels in order, I have to have a podcast, I have to have a book, multiple books. All the things. They have to do all the things. And so the big problem here is you’re so distracted doing all the things that you lose sight of, what’s the main goal? And if you look at the main goal, it has very little to do with accomplishing all the things, but it’s really about let’s simplify this. Why do you want to be a speaker? Let’s go back to that why, and if you simplify it, you’ll know what your next best step is, and it’s not doing all of the things.

I know you and I have talked about this so much. In fact, we’ve talked about this openly to our group calls too. You’re not ready for a podcast. You know, you’re not ready to write that book yet. Slow down, keep focused, and stop trying to do all the things because it could be the demise of someone’s business.

RC: There’s too much going on. And I started my business as a coach and stayed very much in that lane, but then suddenly an opportunity presented itself to do a podcast. I’m like, “I don’t have any interest in this” and then I kind of started playing with the idea and go, well, maybe. And then once I realized I really like that, it’s like, yeah, this is where I belong.

But then simultaneously having that voice on a podcast wasn’t really that much different than having a voice on stage and then that presented it itself. And I was like, well, isn’t this interesting? Because now I’ve got both things going on and I’ve got a book that I’m writing, which is using my voice.

The thing that I learned most about myself is every bit of what I do is about me using my voice. But I didn’t try to execute all of those at once. I thought about it, but I was like, no, no, no. I know bright shining object syndrome is like my worst enemy. And I leaned into each piece as it came in, but man, I was like, “I gotta go do this. I gotta go do this.” I’m like, no, no, no. Slow down. Does this make sense right now? Does this make sense? And I think that was the best question I kept asking myself: does this make sense for where I am right now? And the more I dialed in and listened to that question and answered it deeply for myself, the better my business became and the more I enjoyed doing it, even to the point where when I started speaking, I kept questioning, “Is this the best thing for me to be doing? Is this the best thing for me to be doing?” And I discovered that speaking was part of it, but the kind of speaking I was doing wasn’t serving me. And then once I figured that out, I’m like, okay, cool. I know how I’m supposed to be a speaker. And again, then suddenly everything blossomed.

MG: Yeah. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your business is say no to certain things and really stay focused on your big Yes.

And that’ll grow your business a lot faster than you saying yes to all the things and running into burnout, working 70 hour weeks, not having that work-life balance. It’s really important. It’s really important, especially in a creative type of industry like speaking, you have to maintain some level of balance so that you have that creative genius and you have the energy to run the business. Because it’s not just starting a podcast and it’s not just starting a social media channel. It’s managing all that content, the editing, the content calendar. I mean, it is a lot of work. It’s a lot of work. So you really have to be cautious about what kind of branches you want to add to your business, and it has to make sense in this moment and it not always will.

And so for today, it’s okay for it to be a hard no. And then as the business grows and you start building out a team, you could add those different components, but you don’t want it to be your greatest distraction. You want it to be your greatest catalyst to growth. That’s really important when you’re running your own business, for sure.

#6: Inherited Stories

All right, so the next one’s . . . We could probably do an entire podcast on this next one. In fact when I went for my coaching certification, we spent an entire month on training on this, and it was so interesting to me having a social work background. I really wanted to be a therapist. That was my goal, to be a therapist.

But inherited stories, your mother’s story, your father’s story, their money story, their time story. I can’t tell you, I used to go deep dive coaching with this with my business coaching gals and it was always so amazing how I would hear them say, “I don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough time.” And I would say, “Whose story is that? Your mom’s or your dad’s?” And they’d be like, “Oh, my mom’s. My mom’s. She would always say it, have no time.” I’m like, yeah. So you just inherited that. Is it really true that you don’t have enough time? Because I believe you have the same 24 hours as I have, right? And you’re a single woman with no children and a Labrador, and I’m a wife with three kids and two dogs. So what are we talking about here, right? So like these inherited stories can really be a distraction to our business. And here’s the thing, you might be the very first entrepreneur in your family so you don’t have someone to look up to for guidance. So you’re creating your own story, which means you have to separate from the inherited stories, and that can be really challenging. So be really aware of what you’re saying around money, time, your body, your abilities, because this might be all inherited from mom, dad, and what they taught you in the home, and they did their best.

We’re not going off on mom and dad. They did the best with what they knew, but this is just something for us to be really aware of because these inherited stories can really hold us back.

RC: It’s so interesting to see this really show up and I started my business from a interesting space of having watched my dad run his business and pour every waking hour into it, basically taking one day a week off, always feeling like he was charging people too much and making a living, but never being what I would consider, and again, I’m counting this, what I would consider successful.

And then one day, about five years into my business, I’m like, “Oh my God, I’m my dad.” I’m working almost seven days a week, taking very little time off on the weekends, always like, well, you know, here’s my price, but you know . . . And I’m like, oh my gosh, this is ridiculous. And the stories around how much I should charge and how much I have to work and all this sort of stuff was what was killing my business.

I hated my business. I absolutely hated it until that moment. And I’m like, wait, time out. Then if you hate it, either get out or start doing it differently. And it was a huge thing to see that.

MG: Yeah, it’s a huge aha moment. I did a lot of work around my money story. I’m the youngest of seven children. There wasn’t a whole hell of a lot of money, and I always heard, you know, money doesn’t grow on trees, you know? Right? So you think about all these comments your parents made and that imprint on your brain, and so when it came to money, I was like, oh, there’s never enough. There’s never enough. There’s never enough. And I was convinced there was never enough money, which meant I had to work even harder even if I met my quota for that month, that was never enough because the bottom’s always gonna drop out, and so,  after going through my coaching certification and learning more about these inherited stories, I was like, you know what, I gotta do some money work big time over here. If I wanna make some money, I need to be doing some money work. And so I did. I went on this major journey for over a year, really working on my money story that was connected to inherited stories, and it was was such an awakening for me on so many levels, and it was amazing to see my business grow from this struggling business to multiple six-figure business just in that small amount of time from doing that work.

And so really looking into these inherited stories, just the only thing you need to do just listen to what you’re saying out loud.  Even the things like, “Oh, you’re so stupid.” Who said that to you? You know, or, “Oh my gosh, I I’m never gonna be able to do this. I can’t afford this, or I don’t have enough time.”

Really listen to those things that you’re putting out. Start paying attention. Write them down, and then track back. Where did you learn that? Who “gifted” that to you? That inherited story. If you ask yourself, is it really true? The answer’s usually no, it’s not true. No, it’s not true, and you just need to do some work. You just need to do some work to dismantle that story and rewrite your own story. Again, this is where personal development is really, really powerful. There’s some awesome programs out there on time management, on money, on self-love. And if you’re struggling in those areas, I strongly encourage you to do that work because it’s going to distract you from building the business of your dreams one hundred percent.

RC: And don’t make the story a bad thing. Don’t make the story like, “It’s so bad that I have this story.” No, the story is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to say, okay, how can I move beyond this? You know we have these lovely little saboteurs in our minds, our judging saboteur, that is huge for all of us.

If we don’t assign any value to that story, other than, okay, that’s the story. Now what would I like to do with that? Even as I said those words, some of you probably felt that you felt the change in energy. So what do you get to do with that story? You get to change it and make it your own story, as Maryalice just said.

And I think that’s really important because once we do that, it helps us also kind of go back to what we’ve already talked about, like following the influencers and everything, but kind of moves us forward to the next one.

#7: Comparisons

RC: Number seven is the comparison to these other people  without having done the work. If we’re creating a story, “Look at them. They’re here. They’re there. Look at Mel Robbins.” Okay. You could drive yourself batty, but have you done the work? Have you done the work? And the reason I brought this one up was because I remember in my coach training, one of my mentors said the biggest mistake coaches or anybody that’s an entrepreneur can make is not realizing that their business is exactly on the same trajectory as we are as humans. We start out as infants, and then we’re toddlers, and then we’re in little elementary school or preschool, and then we move forward and we’re in middle school and then we’re in high school. And lo and behold, if we start to really look at our business in that kind of a frame, why are you trying to execute your business against somebody else who’s already a young adult out there in the business?

When you’re a toddler, you haven’t got there yet. You’re barely beginning to walk. Now, this doesn’t mean, don’t reach for that. I’m not saying that. There’s nothing wrong with reaching for that, but being very cognizant of how you compare where you are to where somebody else is,  it goes back to the influencers.

So much of what we already talked about brings this full circle, but I found for me every time I’m like, “but, but, but,” and I lost so much momentum. I got so angry at times because I’m like, why am I not on that stage? And one of the stages I really wanted to be on at one point, I kept going, “I’m so much better than them” until five years later when I was least expecting it.

I got asked to be on that stage. Why? Because I’d finally grown into that world where it made sense for me to be on that stage. And too often we as business owners miss that. That doesn’t mean get stuck in infant, toddler or any of that, but be super cognizant about where you are.

#8: Other People’s Business

MG: And I think one tip that I’ll give, and I’ve shared this before, but when I was growing in my business, I followed all these people. I got their emails every day. I read all their emails. I went to their website. I listened to their podcast, I read their blogs. I downloaded their freebies. I mean, I was entrenched in their business, which meant one thing: I wasn’t in mine. So mind your own business. And one way that you could do that is, I set up a separate email account and I unfollowed everyone from my main account. And I just had this separate email account where these people that I  respected, Grant [Baldwin] was actually one of them, which is why I’m here today. And  I chose, when I was ready and in the right frame, to go read their email or I would use their email also for marketing, studying marketing, what subject lines made me want to open that email and read it.

But instead of following them, because I needed them and I needed to learn from them and I needed to be where they were at, I switched it and I followed them as my teachers and I separated them from my daily business. And I only went and read their emails if I was inspired to open them, because that subject line was interesting.

And so that was a huge shift for me to really mind my own business instead of trying to be like the other people in the online space. And that was critical. It really helped me shift in so many ways to stay in my lane and respect where Maryalice was in that moment. And so if you are over-following and if you’re getting everyone’s email and you’re reading their blogs and studying their opt-ins and all that stuff, that’s okay. If you have it in perspective, make sure that your work is done and you’re minding your business before you’re jumping into somebody else’s.

RC: Well, and two, it gets very confusing because this person will say this, and then this person says this and then this. And so suddenly you have three different versions of people saying stuff.

None of which  is probably bad information, but everybody’s going to have a different twist on this until you realize everybody has a different twist. They’re just getting from point A to point B a different way. And if you can discern that and put discernment as a big key in this, and like you, I did the same thing, I had so many people. I was like, okay, I gotta listen to Grant and Jonathan Fields and Chris Guillebeau and Mel Robbins and Marie Forleo. I was so confused. And then it actually led to me being what number eight is.

I was working 20 hours a day, 16 hour days, da da, da. Why? Because I was sitting doing all that stuff with those people, instead of working on my business. I was like, oh my gosh, I’ve done all this, now what do I gotta get done? And then I get to the end of the work week, six-day or seven-day work week, and I’m exhausted and I’ve had no time to reboot. If you are daily going to bed exhausted from your business, it’s time to rethink. And you’ve got to give yourself reboot time even throughout the day. I mean, Maryalice knows Rick takes off five hours a day to go bike riding and then I’m back on on staff, right? But I give myself that privilege of going and doing something, even if it’s just walk away from the home office and literally go outside. Even if it’s just walk to the mailbox or walk down the street a little bit, or get on a bike and go for a quick hour ride and come back. You have to have the reboot. And honestly, put an end of day time on your calendar. The end of day is the end of day. My end of day is 6:00 PM PT daily.

I may end at 5:00 or 5:30. I mean, I may be done, but at 6:00 PM I am done, done, done, done, done, done. And if we don’t reboot, you’re gonna find it really hard to do anything.

MG: I remember my husband peeking his head into the office door on a Saturday afternoon and he’s like, “So is this going to be our weekend? You working?” He’s like, “It’s fine if that’s the case, but just give me a heads up because I’ll fill my calendar with what I want to do.” And I was like, this has to stop. This is not working, you know? So I think one of the big things that changed for me was, I only checked my email first thing in the morning and right before I was closing out for the day and I shut it down for the rest of the day, so I wasn’t so accessible. I also really honed in on my social media. I posted one time a day and then I was done. And then I also adjusted my schedule to coaching. I wasn’t available to coach when anybody wanted to coach. This was my coaching time. These were my coaching days, and that was it. And then creating a CEO hour was very powerful for me where everything was shut off and I was just thinking in the business. So really managing your calendar could really help you with this. But Rick, you’re a hundred percent right. You need that time to refresh. You need that time to be human. And it’s hard when your office is right in your house and it’s right in your face.

So you have to make those conscious decisions to separate and really refresh yourself.

RC: Yep. And as a speaker, I know this may sound kind of crazy because you’re going to go when the gigs are, right? But it’s okay to say I don’t speak on these days. That’s okay. Now, you may shift from time to time, but we need to put this in context.

If you’re going to be a road warrior speaker, which a lot of people are, I don’t know how you can do that every day of the week because you’re going to be going from gig to gig to gig. And one of my best friends in the speaking business taught me this. He goes, “For the most part, I speak Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, because if I’m going to get to a gig on a Tuesday, that means I’m flying out on a Monday. If I’m going to go from a Monday to a Tuesday, I better make sure I can do that, but most of the time I’m going to speak on a Tuesday and then I’ll speak on a Thursday, and then my week is. I keep my weekends sacred unless it’s just completely impossible to get somewhere.” But that was his thing. And he goes, “And I’m not just a speaker , I’ve got podcasts and I coach and . . .” And so he had calendars and if something came up where he is like, “Yeah, that’s a great gig, but you know what? I don’t see it actually fitting with my work schedule,” he would give up the gig. Now if it was something like, yes, this really is something I want to do, he didn’t hold himself so rigid to that, that he couldn’t do it. But as speakers, I think you need to be prepared for that too. Like what are your speaking days?

Most of the time, and most of the time you’re gonna find most speaking gigs can be a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. But that also opens the doorway to something that I kind of put on this list that most people don’t. They think they’re doing it, but they’re not doing all the research on all fronts of their speaking business. You need to research your personal development.

#9: Researching the Wrong Things

RC: But it’s interesting that we research on how to build the business and how to do this and how to do this well. When was the last time you researched how to take care of yourself? When was the last time you researched what are some of the tips and tricks that road warrior speakers really need to understand to manage time zones?

What is the research you’ve done for what’s gonna happen to your business if suddenly taxes in your state change, or there’s a new federal law that goes into place about being an entrepreneur? Are you doing the research that you need to be doing on all fronts? And most people get distracted because they don’t, and then suddenly an explosion happens in their business.

Like, oh my gosh, I didn’t realize the taxes change and now I’m getting this bill. Okay, I’ve got to run to my account. Oh, I can’t talk to him because he’s not available  . . . Stay on top and research and listen to what’s happening in your business life. I’ve seen this happen to too many people and suddenly they are literally caught with their pants down, so to speak.

Big important things. And research the people you’re really going to follow and say, these are my mentors. I’m not saying there’s a lot of shysters out there, but some people do just  throw something out and they have  nothing to stand on and back up what they’re saying they’re trying to help you do. So research, research, research.

MG: It’s a great point. And in fact, you’d be shocked how many people are running a “business” with no legal contracts, no accountant, no legal LLCs or S-corps, none of that. They’re just flying by the seat of their pants. And I’ll tell you, if you are struggling with imposter syndrome, that could be why.

You’re running an illegitimate business and you feel it. It’s like it’s coming out of the fibers of your being. Whereas if you’re legit and you have legit contracts, you have legal support, you have accountants, you understand your taxes, you have an LLC, all of that stuff really builds confidence.

And some people might say, “Well, my business isn’t ready.” Actually, it should be one of the first steps you take before getting out there because you’ll get out there much more confidently than hiding behind the fact that you actually don’t have a legal contract, it’s just something you downloaded from Google, you know?

So really do your research on how to launch a legitimate business because you’ll get out there so much more ahead of the person who’s just kind of doing it on a wing and a prayer. You’ll have that confidence. That’s really important.

#10: Yourself

Number ten. This is to me the most important one, but one of the biggest distractions could be yourself.

You have no plan. You lack time management. You lack vision. You lack strategy. You’re throwing stuff at the wall, keeping your fingers crossed, hoping that it’s going to stick. That is no way to run a business. One thing that we implemented here at the Speaker Lab is in our How to Get Booked & Paid to Speak elite program in module five.

We have a vision and strategy workbook that all of our students go through, and this helps our students build a three year plan with the strategy to support that plan. Because you could build a three year plan, but if you don’t have the strategy to implement it and see it through, it’s probably just gonna stay pen to paper, and it’s never going to be executed. So really you have to get out of your own way and you have to be the CEO of your speaking business. So in order to do that, what’s the vision? What’s the strategy? Who, when, how, and why? You have to be able to answer those questions. Don’t you think that that’s critical to this process?

RC: Absolutely. So I’m gonna use myself as a guinea pig right now because this is a good example of what’s been going on with me. Maryalice  has been with the company now two years, and I think when she came on board I was already talking about trying to get book number two done. And now I am, because we do something really cool here in the company called OKRs and it’s like what we’re gonna get done. What are the key results we’re going to create for ourselves and for the company but we also do ‘them on a personal front.

So when I got into quarter four, that we’re in right now, I said, “Okay, my OKR is I’m going to get the editing done on my book, and each month there’s so many pages I’m going to get edited and edited and edited.” I have a plan and I have time carved out for it that I do this. I’m almost done. I am almost done and it’s because I’ve made a plan. Because I’m saying this is something that I want to get done. And then there’s a plan in there that isn’t on my OKRs, like reaching out and finding the person who I’m going to help pitch to and all this sort of stuff. I have that scheduled for, you know, first quarter, 2023.

But I’m so excited because I’m moving through this and I found that every time I say, here’s the thing and I’m gonna give you all a really simple formula for this. That’s worked so easy for me. , we don’t have to complicate this stuff. So we’re recording this in November, 2022 right now, and a couple of weeks, usually after Thanksgiving, after I’m like, I’m full of the gills and I don’t want to move around on Friday after Thanksgiving. I do not go shopping.

I will actually sit down and go, “Okay, what do I want my next year to look like?” Now, I’m a full-time employee with the Speaker Lab, but I have the privilege of running a side hustle of a coaching practice and writing books and doing my podcast. I literally sit down and I will project out, what do I want to do for 2023? What’s the plan? And in that plan, how many podcasts? How many speaking engagements? How many coaching clients? And guess what’s also in there? Well, the book’s in there too. How much time out of all those things is Rick gonna dedicate to himself? Because when I do that, I am not throwing garbage at the wall to make it stick.

I see it. When I was not working for the Speaker Lab, each of those segments – coaching book, podcasts, speaking – I had this much money dedicated that I was going to bring in as revenue and this much money and this much money. It’s that simple. Yes, you can go into deeper detail, but I ran my business very simply – Speaking’s going to generate this much revenue. Coaching’s going to generate this much revenue. Podcast’s going to generate this much revenue. Book’s going to generate this much revenue. I had a revenue plan. It can be that simple. Of course, I break it down like, how much of that’s first quarter, second quarter, third quarter, and then by month.

We get so hung up in some of this stuff. And then when we’re hung up, we’re not taking care of ourselves and we don’t have a plan and we don’t manage our time, and then we start finding that we’re throwing spaghetti at the wall.  But if you don’t get out of your own way, there’s nobody to blame but yourself.

MG: Knowing your numbers is critical. It’s critical. And having that plan in place is so important. And we saw that gap here and that’s something that I was so excited to fulfill for our students. And it’s amazing watching them create that vision for their business and really feeling good about the strategy that they have in place for the next three years.

When you can see that it really helps you minimize the imposter syndrome, minimize the distractions, because if it’s not part of the plan and the strategy, you don’t need the podcast. It’s not part of the plan, and you’re still going to reach your numbers without the podcast. So that will really minimize distraction, just having that vision and strategy.

If you enjoyed this transcript, click below to check out the full podcast episode! 

Want to know exactly what to say to finally land paid speaking gigs?

We’ll send you the exact three emails you can send to conference planners and event organizers that Grant Baldwin (our founder) used to book over $2M in speaking gigs. 

Related Resources

Here are a few other resources you might find helpful. 

How to Make Effective Use of Body Language as a Speaker
Introduction No matter how well-crafted your talk is, poor body language can butcher the whole thing. We aren’t saying that to scare you, but to empower you to work on your body language alongside other...
The Speaker Lab Reviews
The Speaker Lab Reviews We are proud of the positive reviews we've received from our students, who have worked with The Speaker Lab to make their businesses more efficient, predictable, and profitable. See just a...
How to Create Impactful Stories as a Speaker
Introduction Have you tried telling stories when you speak?  The answer is probably yes, as all the greatest speakers use stories to their advantage.  But do you know how to create real impact with those...
How to Create Effective Speaking PowerPoint Presentations
Introduction On your path to becoming a speaker, you overcome a lot of hurdles. You find your niche, you market yourself, you land a few local gigs, and then your first big keynote. You’ve finally...
What ChatGPT and AI can do for speakers
Introduction  If you follow the tech world to any great extent, you've probably heard or read about ChatGPT and other AI (artificial intelligence) tools. But what are they exactly, and how are they used? Furthermore,...
Top 10 movies about public speaking
Introduction Presenting in public can be a daunting experience for many. Whether it's a class presentation, or a keynote speech or even a wedding toast, the mere thought of having to address an audience can...
7 Networking Tips for Public Speakers
Introduction Building your network is an essential strategy for growing your speaking career. If you go back to the TSL podcast and blog archives, you’ll see this topic has come up again and again. But that’s...
How to navigate legal issues as a speaker
Grant Baldwin: Hey, what’s up friends, it’s Grant Baldwin here and welcome back to The Speaker Lab Podcast. Good to have you here with us today — we're talking with my friend and attorney Autumn...
Our best advice for growing your speaking business
Maryalice: Hey everyone. I'm Mary Goldsmith, Director of Student Success at the Speaker Lab, and today I am joined by our very own Elite Concierge and Coach, Katie Campbell, for this episode of the Coach's...
How to navigate the 10 biggest distractions for speakers
Maryalice Goldsmith: Rick, how you doing today? Rick Clemons: Pretty good. Great day to be having some conversations about distractions. I'm glad you said, "Hey, let's talk about this subject matter." MG: Yeah. I mean, building a speaking...