SL047: How To Have Your First Seven Figure Speaker Year – Interview with Jane Atkinson

Jane Atkinson spent over a decade as one of the top business managers for speakers including best-selling author’s and celebrities. Jane is the author of four books including the The Wealthy Speaker 2.0, The Epic Keynote and The Wealthy Speaker Daily Success Planner and Journal. She is also the host of The Wealthy Speaker Podcast and recently founded The Wealthy Speaker School, which provides online courses, group coaching and live events for all levels of speakers. She is known throughout the speaking industry as the Speaker Launcher.

Artificial Intelligence Generated Transcript

Below is a machine-generated transcript and therefore the transcript may contain errors.

Hey, there is James Taylor and I’m delighted today to have on the show Jane Atkinson, Jane Atkinson spent over a decade as one of the top business managers for speakers including Best Selling authors and celebrities. Jane is the author of four books, including the wealthy speaker 2.0, the epic keynote and the wealthy speaker daily success planner and journal. She is also the host of the wealthy speaker podcast and recently founded the wealthy speaker School, which provides online courses and group coaching and live events for all levels of speakers. She is known throughout the speaking industry as the speaker launches my great pleasure to have Jane with us today. So welcome, Jane.

I’m so happy to be back in your world James will always be so tell us what how what’s happening in your world at the moment.
Well, we are actually knee deep in the wealthy speaker school we are launching it again right as we speak. And so we’re really excited about doing some great work with people and mostly our school members right now are emerging speakers. But we do actually have kind of masterminds and things like that, but we’re just really excited about the results that people are getting.
So one thing I think I maybe I told you this before when I very first started speaking a few years ago, my wife and I were traveling to one of my first speaking engagements and it was an a, an island miles away from where we live and we had this long journey about three hour drive to this vent this venue for the speaking engagement. And we listened to the wealthy speaker audio book the whole way there and I said to my wife today so I’m speaking to Jane Mac jack is with us that woman on the journey that we went as well. You’ve inspired so many speakers and and help them really basically kind of go on that journey and take that that first step.

So how does that How does that feel being the being knowing Now is that as a person who’s launched many speaking careers, you know what it feels amazing. And the team and I are often reiterating, what is our purpose? What are we doing here? What is the work? And it’s about helping speakers and their families live the lives of their dreams. And how cool is that? I mean, who wouldn’t love that? It’s amazing. It’s an awesome thing. And when people you know, write me letters and emails and and reach out to me on social media and tell me how they’re living their dreams, that is very, very exciting. It makes my day every time I hear something.
Now for people that don’t know your background, you were a manager of business manager for speaker and also you an agent and one of the top bureaus or so can you take me back to that time, that kind of work you were doing at that point? Sure.

So the first 15 years of my, I’m going to stop it at 30 years cuz he went to get to 40. It just sounds really old. So The first 15 years of my three decades in this business started managing speakers I was an agent was my first job, you know, off basement office straight commission for three years. We doubled my speaker’s business every year for three years. And then I got recruited out to more of a corner office with a view in Vancouver. And we doubled his business every year for a few years. And then I got recruited down to Dallas and in the Dallas situation, I was able to work also under the roof of a speaker’s bureau for six years. And that gave me a real bird’s eye view of how it feels to be on the receiving end of information from speakers back then people were sending out packets of information with videos. And that was really an interesting and eye opening experience, which I’ve been able to really use in everything that I’ve done since then. remember a few years ago you published a report which kind of looked at the it was kind of a State of the State of the Union a state of the speaking industry about some of the numbers as well. How are you feeling about the the speaking industry just now is it isn’t a good place? Is it going up? Is it going down? Yeah. Should we be fearful for what? speakers what where are we at?

Well, the goal is to kind of recession proof yourself by having a you know, a product that really helps to solve a problem by having something that people really can use to provide a solution for themselves. And so I had that I had this conversation with one of my clients is a really smart financial analyst. And so we talked that through how to recession proof your Korea, one of the podcast, but I feel like things are really really good right now. And that that on the horizon, I see more good kind of immediately here in Canada, we are expecting a recession to come. And so we need to really look at what can we be doing if, you know, how do we shore it up? So and I think they have a little bit of a prediction for coming in in the US as well. That’s just kind of typically North America is where I live. But I would say right now things are pretty darn rosy. Wouldn’t you agree?

Yeah. I mean, I think also when you take into the international side of things, I’m I’m speaking to you from the UK. We’re having some challenges in the US going through some transitions. Obviously, there’s definitely a sense in North America. It’s been going up for so long. Everything what comes up must come down. Yeah. And so the reekin of rebalancing there, but at the end of last year, I spent a lot of my time speaking in the Middle East and Asia. I go to some of the some of those, even some of the newer up Coming countries, and you see how much demand there is there. And where a lot of those big conferences that used to be the global conferences used to happen in New York or London or maybe Paris, where they bring all those senior executives together from a global company used to be in those places. But increasingly, they’re in Shanghai, or they’re in Beijing, or they’re in Singapore or or they’re doing more there’s kind of incentive tourism into parts of the Middle East. So I think it’s, you know, the world is your oyster, I guess, as a speaker just now, so it does, it does feel pretty good. It does feel pretty good right now. And let’s see.

What you’re also suggesting then and as you work with speakers on is that I guess I would call like a Ray Dalio, the hedge fund manager caused by creating an all weather fund. So regardless of where the market goes up or down, you can have that which is about in his in finances, kind of asset allocation. So not having having some money involved. some cash, beautiful advice. And when you can diversify where your income is coming from, then you’re not quite so dependent on the meetings industry. If something catastrophic happens, you know, all of the meetings could go away. We’ve seen that happen already. So we want to have a few other irons in the fire in terms of revenue. And I think that that’s just good business Anyway, you can only trade your time for money, you know, you have a limited inventory. And so that is a business model that I think diversification is necessary anyway.
And the wealthy speak, I’m guessing I listened to the 1.0 audiobook version. But I remember a number saying when you’re working with a client that you figured out in order to secure 80 bookings per year, you make 40 to 50 calls per day. How does that change how How things different now?

I don’t I think what’s changed about it is it may not be calls, it may be emails, I think that the business is still a numbers game. And I think we’re calling it differently. We’re maybe calling it touches, we want to reach out and land in somebody’s email basket was something that leads to potentially a phone call. And we’re planting seeds. And it may be that they don’t need us at that moment. But hey, now, you know, we’re there. And so that’s still the goal is to be planting a significant number of seeds every single day. 40 to 50. You know, the numbers. I knew those numbers well, because that was the calls I was making firsthand. But I do see my clients who are the most aggressive at their numbers having the best results.

We have. We have a big we have two boards up in our office What, what is an one has all those can be the big broad numbers in terms of pictures and holds and confirmed and all those kind of things. And then we have another kind of set of numbers. And I see this is kind of something which I know you work a lot with is taking speakers who are maybe sitting at the at $200,000 from the speaking, which I guess is the kind of the hundred and $20,000 I think is about the average just from the speaking side, maybe other things, but then taking them up to that first million dollar year as a speaker. So how does that, that speaking speakers business look different when going from 100,000 to a million dollars is it 10 times as much work 10 times as much pitching or what’s going going on?

The goal is that it’s not 10 times as much work because you have systems in place to keep it all running. So that great example that I’m sure I’ve mentioned to you before you might have heard me talk about Is Kendra hall? Yeah, she first got started and she decided, Okay, my mission is I’m going to send out 600 emails. And I’m going to get some business from that. So she did it. And she did get a lot of business. And she went out and played all those dates. So she went and actually delivered all the speeches. And at the end of it, she realized she had no more in the funnel. So she thought, Oh, I have to send out 600 more. So she did 600 more. But now fast forward several years later, and she’s way past the million dollar mark. She’s got a best selling book on the New York Times list, and you know, 20 or 30,000 Instagram followers. Now she’s got a machine that keeps it all running while she’s gone. So it could be that you go to a system for how you are talking to your list, your fan base of clients, that you’re connecting with them. on a regular basis, whether it be a once a week, you know, something that drops in there in basket or something, a blog, it could be a podcast, there’s lots of different ways that you can do it. But the goal is that you commit to the timing of it, and you do it on a regular basis. So that’s a system and she would have a lot of different systems going on in her business now, including her social media, going out on a schedule, all of this what what was maybe in the first hundred K, kind of hard work and hustle and maybe a little bit haphazard, then becomes very much processes and systems that can take you to that next level. Does that make sense?

Yeah, it almost reminds me there was that wonderful book, The E myth revisited by Michael Gerber book. That’s right. I always I wish someone would write that book. But for speakers something which is because often people coming into the industry, there’s a there’s a obviously a glamour, I guess of the speaking industry. But as you as you were saying there, as you get further in, there’s still a huge amounts of fun and you give all this value to audiences. But you do require those systems to work even when you’re onstage or when you’re in a plane when you’re sitting an airport lounge. Yeah, most people love when they’re on stage and getting the glory. But they don’t actually and and maybe this is why there’s a lot of people maybe in the zero to 60 range 60 k range of income, is that it’s kind of like a hobby for them. They haven’t really thought about it as a business yet, but that’s something that we need to get to. And once you really learn So, my first you know, many, many years in the business, I understood how to run a speaking business. And in the last seven, I’ve been really very much focused on learning how to run a business doesn’t matter what business is in. So I’m learning from a lots of people outside of speaking on how to run a business.

And so you told me about the systems. What about the team, maybe when a speaker just getting started on the rise is just came on? Maybe they have a virtual assistant, for example, how does a team change going from 100,000 to a million? I think you’re probably going to have specialists and like they say, hire generals, not soldiers. And so if we were looking at your say, you’re going to have social media and you’re going to have your, you know, I have someone who does all of my infusion soft work, which means that they really are responsible of how my brand lands, and so they do all of my communications. As well as all of my social media. And so you want to have people in the positions who are the best at doing those things. If you have a podcast, your podcast team needs to be the people who are really great at podcasts and so on and so forth. I think what you’ll do in the early days is you’ll have one VA or one or two assistants who kind of helps you with everything. And I think eventually, you’ll start to see that you want to get more specialists in their areas, so that you’re getting better and better quality.

And you mentioned Infusionsoft there, which is a CRM, customer relationship management software. What what other types of systems or products do you tend to find those speakers at that level? If you can, like broad kind of title like CRM, they’re going to have this what what other things are they going to write? So we would have and there’s some guys that’s a company called speaker flow who are really great Right as setting up some systems for speakers, I’ll give them a little plug, and they put the CRM at the center of it, then there might be a communication tool for you and your team. We use slack. We also tie all of our projects to Asana. And all of the team communicates within Asana. When it’s project work, we only use slack for like one off communications about, Hey, did you see this? You know, yes or no. And so the slack really reduced the email significantly. That’s like an instant messaging service. And that but the Asana is where we put all of our project work, and those are all really tied together with various, you know, broken down into threads. And, and then if all of that connects and works with your CRM, then you’re kind of in good business, but then we also have like, what about the backend of a speaking event, what is the checklist that happens before during and after the event, a lot of people will use e speakers to develop the checklist and the speakers is designed to manage an event brilliantly from beginning to end.

So these are all different different kind of systems and how they talk to each other or, or don’t, sometimes, sometimes they talk to each other. So for instance, your CRM, we recommend karma, sometimes karma CRM for speakers, and I believe that does play nice in the sandbox with East speakers, for instance, and I think each speakers plays nice in the sandbox with for instance, QuickBooks if you need it, you need an accounting software. So your goal is to have something at the center of all of your systems that kind of helps connect them all together. So when when you’re kind of getting up to that level as well. So you often with that, million dollar level, you may have a number of different people in your in your team, when’s the right time to maybe take on a second General Manager job really to manage because it gets I was thinking when you hit that kind of five person number, it becomes more difficult to manage each other can get unruly, I think somewhere between the half a million and a million mark is probably when you’re looking for the business manager role.

Someone who gets in between you because what will happen if you’re a busy speaker on the road, you will become the bottleneck for the operation. It’s when too many things are dependent on you to say yes, let’s do this, then that then itself can become a problem and I think a GM might be a good idea at that point. Some people will continue to manage It all themselves and, and something that we really want to talk about James is going from 100 to say 850 you really need to develop your leadership skills as you go. And you’re not the speaker in this role. You’re both the business owner and the leader of the team. And there’s a certain psychology around that. Yeah. So it sounds like when you see my wife’s a lawyer, originally, I would always stand me I’d go into some of the law firms that she worked for, and I’d see how incredibly bad leader you know, poor leaders, some of the partners well, because, you know, they’ve never had any trian real leadership at law. They’re just very good at leadership. Yeah, that’s right. And that’s a lot. A lot of leaders are in that position, because they’re good at their job, they get the leadership role, but then they really don’t do it very well. So that’s another another nice little slice of what’s coming your way. You have a kind of a guiding star cuz you’ve worked with so many speakers, so many thought leaders on leadership as well. You’ve coached them, you work with them. You’re you’ve shared stages with them as well. Are there any that you think, you know, especially for speakers going from that kind of millet that’s 100,000 to the million dollar mark, you maybe go and check out this speakers work, or this this?

Well, the person who I have I’ve been a part of Dan Sullivan, Strategic Coach for seven years, and Dan’s written a bazillion books on leading your organization. And the goal in his world is to become a self managed company. And so Dan has a podcast you could check him out through that and just think about, I think he, when you’re exposing yourself, to him, you’re really saying, okay, I want to learn more about business in general. And we talk a lot about team Strategic Coach and We talk a lot about what is it going to take to have 10 times growth? And what’s really interesting. When you want 10 times growth, it’s a little bit daunting. But when you look back at your history, in some cases, you’ve already done it, which I have in my own business. And so it was made it much less daunting going forward, because I realized, oh, I’ve already done it. And I think one of the other things, James is that I would just say, is to manage your patience. I think a lot of people want it yesterday, when in fact, it’s kind of like a step by step process where it’s, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

And you mentioned earlier about these all weather fund having different revenue streams, you can have multiple revenue streams. And it seems to be the this industry like many areas like online marketing, they kind of go through different bright shiny things at different points. So Maybe a while ago, it was book sets of DVDs, I guess. It was like online courses and memberships and then summit. So it can it goes through all different things. If you were to be working with a speaker, let’s assume the speaker has their speeches, they’re going to speaking, they have a book, you know, some type of physical thing around the authority. What would be that next logical product that you think they should bring it in order to start having having that level of diversity within their business?

Well, some people have figured out how to monetize their podcast. And so if monetizing it is something that you would be after a podcast could be the next logical, but I think the online course is still not. That’s still something that people are definitely looking for. And if you’ve got thousands of people in your audiences On the regular, then all of those people could be feeding into something. I still love a good membership community. Stu McLaren is a great guy to learn from if you’re thinking about the Canadian warships as well. Good Canadian. Exactly. We’re waving the flag over here. Yeah, so I think that podcasts and online courses and memberships are definitely something to explore, to decide what feels right to you. I think a lot of the problem that we’ve seen with people who say, Oh, I want to add an online course to the mix, they just don’t have a plan after that, or they decide to add an online course or a mastermind or something like that. Wow. They’re already trying to launch their speaking business. And every time you do something like that, think of it like starting a new business. When you write a book That’s like starting a new business because you have once you finish the book and you have the book in your hand, that’s actually when the real work begins. So give yourself the time to actually launch something properly, and learn how to launch something properly. And, and because what I have found is that when you go to launch the thing the first time, it never goes the way you think it’s going to, and it’s going to be something that you just have to remember, look, you know, only 12 people showed up at my first online course and now, you know, but but here we are 10 years later and everything is changed. So, just know that you have to start somewhere, but it’s a process it’s going to take some time to really build it.

I think the other thing is is on the online courses, the membership side, a lot of the guess the gurus out there, they can teach you about that. They have primarily focused on on a consumer market, a b2c market. Exactly. Our speakers we focus on the corporate or associations market. And that’s a very, that the set the selling side is very different. And also the tone of marketing is very different from a consumer side. And I’ve seen I’ve seen a few people do it very well, I think I think Chad hymas has done a very, very well. I think I’ve seen these recently things with Rob Walder waltman. Because it’s actually in terms of it just ties in very well with his brand, how he’s the way he’s selling it because he’s got very strong distinct type of brand. Any other speakers you’ve seen recently? Who, who you think have done an exceptional job in adding that whether that online course or that membership element? Gosh, who has done a great job of adding? I don’t, I would say in our world of speaking.

You know, we probably take a look at the books first somebody who’s really done it. Rachel Hollis, I guess would be a good example. But again, not necessary. Sara Lee doing the corporate work. I’m trying to think of somebody in the corporate world. Right Rachel Hollis, you know who seemed like an overnight success came out with two she ended up having two books on the bestseller list at the same time girl wash your face and girls, stop apologizing. And, but that was like her her fourth and fifth books. So everybody thought she was just new on the scene. But she had been working for probably 15 years before that actually came to be and then she started doing her own big live events. Live Events are another thing that are something that people could potentially do. But really know your market. Like if you live and kind of Breathe in and around insurance or financial services, really know how do these people like to consume? And the more you can test that and really have your audience’s answer those questions. For you, the easier it will be to decide what you should be doing next. So what’s next for you? Then you’ve got the you’ve got the obviously the wealthy speaker school that’s going great guns at the moment. You’ve got the books. I know you just I think was last year you launched the success planner in general. So if it the people don’t know about the planner in general, what’s that all about? What’s the next 12 months look like for you?

Well, we have the daily success planner and journal. That’s something that allows you to get into a real set of intentions at the very beginning of every single day. And the goal is that you’re setting your day off on the right foot to have the best success and so we love, love, love that product. But really where we’re focusing next is called our inner circle mastermind, and it’s a everybody who comes into our world under any of the umbrellas is now becomes a part of the wealthy speaker school at the same time. But our mastermind is for people who are on that mission to go from the first hundred k up to five and then 850. And we have a lot of people in there right now who are doing it and the difference between the school and that is that I run the small classes that we have. And we they also get some one on one private coaching with me. So it’s really been fun to watch the people who have been with us. I think maybe we’ve been doing it for about three years now. And we’ve got some of the same people who are really seeing terrific results. Fantastic.

Yeah, that’s probably what we’ll be focusing on next. And it’s interesting. Whenever I’ve seen awards for for speakers, very often you’ll hear those speakers crediting the masterminds them and members. All right, you kind of have those in the background. You often see. It’s almost like artists like in the 1920s get a whole bunch of artists and they came out it seemed like from nowhere to together Oh bunch of writers group of Yeah, yeah, you’re right. Like it’s right seven or something like that. Exactly. Yeah, I think that when you know, because it’s not just me leading these mastermind calls, it’s actually them sharing with each other as much as anything and and we actually have a lovely man Brandon Hall who’s from the UK, who was just sharing last week how he had spent some money on advertising and how that had exploded his business and you know, when people are getting results, and then they share that with other people, then they can say, Okay, well what’s my version of that and go and try it as well. That is so exciting. You know, my my role is there as the guide and I love to see that happen.

So we’ll be mentioning some of these things just now where’s the best place for people to go to learn all about speaker launcher and everything you’ve got going on at the moment? I think probably is a really good starting place for people. And like I said, we’ve got different levels of the school including mastermind and even all the way up to private coach. Fantastic. I’m going to have all these links here as well. Jane, thank you so much for coming on today. You were a huge inspiration for me getting started in this business and I continue to learn from you through your podcast, everything else that you’ve got going on just now and I wish you all the best this year. My pleasure, James, thank you so much, and I love watching you as well.