I’m taking time off from the principles of public speaking to publish a post with Josh Linkner. Back at the principles later this week.
Josh Linkner is a phenomenon on the global speaking circuit. He’s written three books, two of them New York Times bestsellers. He’s a serial entrepreneur, having launched five successful businesses. He’s a venture capitalist. And he’s part of a group of businesspeople saving Detroit by bringing back its downtown. And did I mention that he’s a professional jazz guitarist? Full disclosure: he’s a former client; I helped him get started in the speaking business. I’m always glad to catch up with Josh because he’s usually on to something new and interesting – in this case, a speaker “boot camp” program about the business side of professional speaking.
Nick: Josh, you’ve become a phenomenally successful speaker yourself. Why turn your energies now to a “boot camp” that presumably will help other people find your kind of success? Does this mean you’re going to be speaking less?
Josh: I’m a big believer in abundance. Helping others speak more won’t negatively impact my speaking career, as the industry is strong and bigger than most people think. In fact, I love what I do so much that I just want to help others get there faster. If I knew then what I know now, I would have accelerated my path by many years. I’m committed to helping others build their speaking business so they can avoid frustration, scale faster, and be able to contribute to the world in a bigger way.
Nick: And why do people need a boot camp? What is the case for what you’re offering?
Josh: There is a big demand for high-end professional speakers. There are also tons of people that have powerful messages to share on the world’s biggest stages. But going from here to there is tough. Many fail along the way, and others waste time, money, and energy. With our 1-day boot camp, we can significantly accelerate a speaker’s time to market, helping them achieve higher fees and more bookings faster. Until now, there hasn’t been a high-end, legitimate training program on the business of speaking. Participants will learn exactly what they need to do to launch and scale their speaking business while receiving all the resources and tools needed to achieve at the highest levels. It is a very efficient and practical approach.
Nick: What’s the one thing you know now, as a master of professional speaking, that you wished you’d known when starting out?
Josh: I’m not sure there is one big thing, but there are hundreds of little things that are critically important. Each little thing isn’t hard to understand or execute, but knowing / doing them are critical to achieving results in the speaking business. That’s what I’m excited to share… all the dozens of little things that, when added up, become the difference maker.
If I had to share just one thing, it would be that speakers often overlook a very important audience. As a speaker, we think of our audience as the hundreds (or thousands) listening to us from the stage. But there’s another audience that is usually overlooked: the audience of 6-8 people gathered around a table to decide which speaker to hire for their upcoming event. Thinking about that audience with as much care as your live audience is critically important. What journey do you take them on? What are the key points? How do you shift their thinking?
Nick: How has the speaking business changed in the half-dozen or so years you’ve been immersed in it as a pro?
Josh: First, timelines are compressed. The general decision timeframe has shortened to about 6-8 weeks from an event date. Also, every month I receive several last-minute booking requests. This means that instant responsiveness is critical. Additionally, meeting planners don’t want just a “motivational” speaker. They want someone who can deliver real takeaway value to their audience, while being motivational in the process. Finally, the use of high quality tech, visuals, and videos is now generally expected. Certainly there are exceptions, but that has become the new norm.
Nick: Can anyone become a successful speaker? What does it take?
Josh: I’m not sure anyone can, but I do think the business is more accessible than people may think. You don’t need to be a retired athlete, former CEO, or mountain climber to be successful in the speaking business. You need to have an important message to share, an intense work-ethic, and strong calling to serve others. From there, too many people fail because they lack a systematic approach. That’s what I’m excited to provide to emerging speakers… a system that can be leveraged to launch and scale one’s speaking business.
Nick: What are the best and worst things about being a pro speaker?
Josh: Best thing is for sure being able to make an impact in so many peoples’ lives and businesses. It is deeply rewarding to know you’re helping people all over the world, and the notes of gratitude are moving. It is also a fun, profitable, energizing, stimulating career where you get to meet interesting people and are constantly learning. Personally, I absolutely love what I do and am so incredibly grateful to have the privilege to do this.
The worst thing – by far – is the travel. Travel sounds very exotic, until you do 160 dates a year and are in airports, hotels and cabs more than you’re home with your family. Now this is something a speaker can manage, but someone like me with poor impulse control and who loves the work and wants to reach as many people as possible will find themselves on the road a lot.
Nick: Finally, tell us a little more about Josh. For example, is it true what I’ve heard that you’ve actually figured out how to put 48 hours in a 24-hour day?
Josh: Ha….I wish. Admittedly I’m a pretty intense person, but primarily because I’m driven to achieve more and expand the impact I make. While I’m not the poster child for life balance, I still get time with my amazing wife Tia and my newborn twins. I also play jazz guitar regularly and get in a workout a few times a week.
Nick: Thanks, Josh! The first boot camp is coming up soon, in July. Learn more here.