SL025: Adding Residual Income To Your Speaking Business – Julie Holmes

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Julie Holmes is an inventor, founder, entrepreneur and corporate survivor. Her favorite question is “What if?” What if you could transform your frustration into time savings and money making? It might sound crazy but that’s exactly what she’s been doing for organizations over the last 25 years. An award-winning speaker, Julie has designed and launched solutions from million dollar software solutions to tiny Bluetooth microphones. But, her creative expertise isn’t limited to products. She has helped organizations like Expedia, Oracle and FedEx leverage incremental innovation thinking to improve their teams, leaders, and sales processes. Julie shows audiences how to find their inner inventor, embrace their entrepreneur and spot the big opportunities in even the smallest innovations.

 

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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 welcome on to the show, Julie Holmes. Julie Holmes is an inventor, a founder and entrepreneur and a corporate survivor. Her favorite question is What if? What if you could transform your frustration into time savings and money making? It may sound crazy, but that’s exactly what she’s been doing for organizations for over 25 years. And award winning speaker Julie has designed and launch solutions for million dollar software solutions to tiny, tiny Bluetooth microphones we’re going to learn about, but her creative expertise isn’t limited to products. She has helped organizations like Expedia, Oracle and FedEx, leverage incremental innovation, thinking to improve their teams, leaders and sales processes. Julie shows audiences how to find their inner inventor, embrace it entrepreneur and spot the big opportunities and even the smallest innovations. And it’s my great pleasure to welcome Julie on the show today. So welcome, Julie.

Hello. It’s so good to be here. Thank you much. So I know you’re just about to get ready. You’re giving a big presentation to a lot of speakers in the US as well. How do you feels speaking to speakers as opposed to you’re going to be speaking mostly to corporations all the time in associations? What does it feel like when you have to go and speak to speakers? To know what I really love it? I do. I love speaking to meeting planners and the speakers I love speaking to people in my industry. Because all the sudden all the things that I do behind the scenes, I get to go look, look at all this cool stuff you can do behind the scenes. And I can’t really take that out to my corporate clients, because they’re like, what I don’t why I don’t understand what you’re doing. So I love it. They’re my people. But so take us back a little bit. How did you get into the strange world of speaking?

Do you know what it’s um, my background and speaking goes way back, I actually have brace yourself of BS in speech, you can get that I have a bachelor science and speech. Yeah. So I have a bachelor’s and a master’s in communication. And I used to teach public speaking and influence and other communication courses at a university. And, and then I went into corporate. And because I had that background, all the time that I was in corporate as whether I was a consultant or in product management or in director of marketing or whether I was director strategy, whatever it was, I was always called upon to speak. So I was forever doing keynotes and thought leadership presentations on behalf of our products and putting together demos and all kinds of stuff. And about three and a half years ago now. I decided I wanted to kind of venture farther afield from corporate, which often happens. And so after 20 plus years, I kind of was like, Okay, let’s do something different. And you sit down and you go, What skills do I have? What do I know? Turns out, I know, I just speaking, as it turns out, and going on. So I was really excited about the opportunity to start taking some of my own products to market. So that was the other side of it. So speaking allowed me to do that.

Tell me about that transition, because I know there’s a lot of people watching listening to this just now who are in the same position that you were in and working in the corporate world, maybe maybe they enjoy the job, but just maybe don’t think it’s getting the best of them. And they want to move on to speaking. I’ve ever had it we had a guest on before surely. Now, Shelly Davis, we had a speaker from the US who spoke about she had a three year plan to how to move out of her corporate gig into being a full time. So can you tell me about what was? I mean, how much time did you give yourself to make that transition? Was it you just woke up one day said that’s it will handle my notice? Or did you give yourself a few months or a year? or What did that look like?

I did a bit of a hybrid. So I started to research it as a profession. In fact, I didn’t even know it was a profession until about probably about six or seven years ago, when we hosted a conference for our users, I worked for a software company at the time. And we hired a professional speaker and I was like, wait a minute, that’s a job. Like, whoa, hold on, we’re paying her to talk, I could do that. I know that stuff. So that was kind of my epiphany. And so I started to really research it. My first stop was I was in the States at the time, my first thought was NSA, the National Speakers Association, joined the Arizona chapter where I was living, I started attending some kind of boot camp trainings and understanding what the businesses speaking looked like. But I hadn’t actually kind of started to go out and really sell myself as a speaker or anything like that. And then I had intended for there to be a nice long transition. But as it turned out, we as a family decided to move to the UK, and just that the stars all aligned. And I was like this is great. This let’s let’s just do it. I didn’t cut cold turkey. So I actually made an arrangement with my current company then to hire me as a consultant part time for probably worked for them for about a year. So for about a year, I was kind of half and half. But I was a consultant. So I had a lot of flexibility in my schedule and things like that. And then I also made sure that we have plenty of savings, because I knew that we got starting any business requires you to have a plan, whatever that plan is, for some people, it’s a transition plan. For me it was a savings plan where we have money set aside specifically for it. And that was kind of the that was the approach we took.

And those those early days. Were the kind of speakers that you looked up the new personally, you can have looked up to or you you you looked at from a file I said, that’s the kind of speaking business that I want to there’s so many different flavors of speaking business. Whoo, those kind of guiding stones for you? Well, I definitely looked at a variety of speakers, because there’s some that I like for the way that they look at the business of speaking I’m quite I’m quite business centric, to me speaking is like the icing on that cake. So I if I can’t do the business, right, I don’t get to speak. So I have to, I don’t spend as much time I think is some other speakers might do kind of focusing on who delivers beautifully. And, you know, how can I match their style? or How can I learn what they know about delivery? I think delivery is important. But I think that managing a business that’s profitable is more important. Because no matter how good you are on stage, if you can’t run a business, then that’s no good. One of my very first connections into the speaking world was Alan Stephens in the PSA. And he was really instrumental, I actually took him on as a coach early on. And he was really instrumental in kind of helping me to see the land, you know, and kind of understand the landscape of professional speaking. And Jayne Atkinson was an important part of the early part of my journey. And, you know, while not a speaker herself, what Jane doesn’t know about the speaking business might not be worth knowing. So that was kind of a big a big kick for me was to kind of get those, you know, get those perspectives and learn from them.

I mean, those are two great coaches to have. I mean, Alan, in terms of also very good at craft understanding craft, Jane, very, very good at the business side, I remember when I, I started speaking and Jane, wonderful book, the wealthy speaker, she had, I think she’s maybe just put out audio, but there’s there was an audio version. And I remember my wife and I driving to some speaking gigs I was doing just devouring this audio book or you know, a version of our book. And it’s just every time, we just have to stop it every few minutes, because there was just so many fantastic nuggets of information that we had to kind of digest it gradually over time. So there’s there’s a great coaches to have. And so you mentioned you made this transition, you moved to the UK? What What did you notice were the differences and the similarities between the speakers and the speaking businesses? And there’s two different places because obviously, we speak a similar language, but not exactly the same, but quite different terms of culturally, the the industry’s in those places.

Yeah, it is. It is quite different in my opinion. I mean, fundamentally, it’s the same profession. But in terms of style. It is vastly different. I mean, let’s face it, Americans are out there, we’re busy, artistic, we’re big voices and finger hair and whatever else. And the British are very reserved, and they, you know, tend to not kind of go over the top like we might as Americans, there’s probably a great happy medium between are a mid Mid Atlantic speaker. Exactly, yeah. And so that was probably one of the biggest things. I think, you know, I remember getting a comment on an evaluation once, but I thought just summed it up perfectly where somebody wrote American, but in a good way. And I was like, I put them on my website for a long time. I can’t remember if it’s still there or not. But I put it on my website for a long time when I was living in the UK because I thought, all right, that sums it up, right? You know, I am, I am a big girl stage speaker, meaning that you know, big boys, big personality, big hand gestures, you know, I’m not quite east coast. But but that is my style on stage. And you man, East Coast. So explain what you mean, when you say that, oh, so East Coast Americans, you get into New York, right? You get into your New York people, you know, your New York people, they’re loud, they got a lot of hand gestures, you know, they talk with their hands alive. So, and it’s one of the things I find most endearing about them. I’m always like, this is like a full experience conversation. This is not just me listening, I am experiencing this person. So so that is probably one of the big differences is just in delivery style and what that style looks like.

The other big difference is it comes into kind of topics that approach. It’s one of the things that I used to tell all the Americans that would come over religion is an important part of America important part of a lot of Americans lives. And because that’s generally true in the States, I think a lot of Americans take that religion with them, and they bring that religion with them onto stage. But that is definitely not the most welcome. perspective when you’re International. So the farther away from America, are they, the less people want to hear about your religious preferences and beliefs? They’re like, you know what, that’s a personal that’s a personal choice, and good for you and just keep it to yourself. Yeah. dinner parties in the UK, you know, you don’t talk about politics, sex and religion, you know, there’s just the do tend not to go there. Although although is sex, it is just innuendo. So that’s true. Totally admire.

So you see, there’s obviously the difference in tone different stuff. I mean, I, I really liked because, you know, I think a lot of that American style of speaking comes from the church comes from the evangelical side of the church. And and there’s there’s something in terms of using colon response that I really like I find is by understanding where maybe British some audiences Don’t let me finish a little bit too much. As well, as you kind of have to temper that. What about the businesses, the business itself? I hear a lot of European speakers say, almost look to America, with that’s where, you know, if you can make today you can make it anywhere, the new york new york thing, that that’s where the speakers get the best money is where all the gigs are. Is that true?

I think that it’s a it’s a bit true and false. I think that from the business perspective, and this is just one person’s opinion, I found Europe to be much more relationship based from a business perspective, it’s more about who you know, it’s much more referral based. So you know, yes, I would get into general inquiries on my website, things like that, the much more often, it’s much more about, oh, hey, I introduced you to so and so they’re, you know, they’re going to call you or let me introduce you to this person or that type of thing. So that network was really important in the UK, and in Europe. So I say, Europe, and I do mean the UK as well, my husband’s British, he does get concerned when I reference the UK is being part of your and the everything about the business, I would say that fees are generally in the UK, specifically fees are lower, full stop, like absolutely lower than they are in the States, for the most part, the market in the states is bigger, it just just by sheer volume and quantity, it’s bigger. So I think what ends up happening is there’s this maybe unrealistic perspective that just because there’s more gigs, there’s more things happening all the time, more meetings, more speakers, more all of this, that it means that you can build a better business here. I don’t know that that’s true. Because again, you’re in a bigger pond, it’s you know, the larger the body of water, the harder it is to find other fish, you know, and it’s harder to find opportunities and gigs, you know, they’re just, you have to know where to look.

And the competition is extreme, I would say in the US as well, you know, regardless of what your topic here is, they will be 10 top notch speakers out there that, you know, they’re looking for as well. So how do you even if we just think geographically, we just look at the US? What are some of the things that you do you’re going into your in your career? How do you stand apart from all those other speakers that maybe you’ve been considered alongside you? Well, there’s one of the big things is to really sit down and figure out what it is that makes you unique as a speaker, not about your delivery, necessarily, although that could be it. There’s, I used to talk about when I spoke at the PSA national one year, I spoke about, you know what it is that makes you unique, your five E’s. And but basically, one of them is, you know, what is your experience that you deliver. And it’s everything about your topic, and who you are, and your background and all of that type of stuff. For me, it’s the fact that I’m an inventor. So what is the things that you know, if you were to sit down and make a list of adjectives or facts about yourself, you know, just list them all out? How many can other people claim. So that helps you to really find what your unique angle is, you know, for you How many people have worked in the music industry, and how many have you know, launched amazing music brands, not very many people. So that would be great differentiator for you clearly it is right. And the creative prowess that comes with that.

For me, it’s the fact that I have 20 years in corporate and I’m an inventor, not other speakers can say that I named my unique place, this is the key thing about the that you’re going to talk about positioning there is having proof points to underpin that positioning. So you can’t just say, let’s say if it was someone that was speaking, same thing as UNT for I’m an inventor as well, if you haven’t invented anything. So you have and I want to move into next is I only know a relatively small number of speakers have done this well, that have not just their speaking business, this, you know, model is often me they are there they’re speaking. And then you maybe have there, maybe it’s a training part, what they do, or coaching or advisory, and then there’s their books, maybe online courses that can have since be around those things. And maybe there’s consulting. But there’s there’s other thing, physical products that and there’s a small number of speakers out there who have been able to launch products can successfully in multiple products successfully into the market as well. So this is something that you’ve done. And so I’d love to know, first of all, what where do you see physical product sitting in your overall business? as a speaker? What was the function of the role of it for you, and just take us through I know you’re working on you know, you just worked on the hate you Hey, Mike, there’s a microphone, speakers, take us through what that process actually looks like of taking something from inside your head to a physical thing and and how that once again, supports your brand. That’s positioning.

Yeah, it’s um, so when it comes to product and and I do, by the way, I fully believe that things like electronic e courses, and online training, and even books, those are all products, they’re great, they’re all product. What I find really interesting, and a great challenge is almost your non speaking products. So there are all kinds of products, and I’ll make some resources available to your listeners so that they can kind of look at some examples of products. But I do have a big interest in non speaking related products. And there’s a couple of reasons why I think they’re really valuable, particularly in our industry, speakers, as a rule our time for money. You know, we are in essence trading our time on stage, or our time coaching or our time training, whatever it is we’re doing, we’re trading our time for money. Now there comes a point where you don’t want to do that anymore. Because you don’t want to give up that time. You don’t want to be on the road, you know, so you have to find, where’s your next place that you’re going to land? Or how are you going to build a business that can survive that transition. So of course, you can start to do more things online, that’s still time for money, you’re just not traveling as much. And really, in order to get out of that equation, in order to extract yourself from that equation, you have to have something else to offer the market besides just you. And that is product. Now it could be product because you yourself have become a brand name, which is great, right? There are certainly examples of that, you know, people that have become famous and now they have products that are famous because of them. I mean, that’s every celebrity who’s ever launched a product.

That’s great. I don’t know that most of us will ever attain that level of notoriety, or willing to put in the time and the hours and the heartache and the struggles that come with creating a brand name for ourselves like that. So I tend to just do things that are more product based. So the products that you’re referring to, Hey, Mike was actually a product that I had created before I ever left corporate, I never intended to take it to market. It was a product I created just to solve a problem I was experiencing. So I was the Director of Product Marketing for a software company. And I was forever giving presentations. And I needed sales and my marketing team to be able to take the messages and the phrasing that I was using, why would speak and put that into our marketing. So I needed them to be able to understand the value propositions to repeat them in a more compelling way and to be able to reuse that content. So I wanted to record my presentations. But that was really hard. Because we were going to pay for a full on video crew. And I was usually presenting to hundreds if not thousands of people. So what was the solution for that? So I wanted to video with my phone. But it was terrible audio when I did that. And audio was actually the most important thing that we needed. So I started hacking together a couple different existing products and kind of splicing things together and some super glue and duct tape. And basically, I made myself a Bluetooth microphone, a Bluetooth lapel microphone that I could click on to my shirt when I was speaking and then I could connect it to my phone in the back of the room. And I use that for years, years. And then I was speaking at an event with a person named Steve Clark with a buddy of mine, Steve Clarke.

And, and I said I was going to record the event for for the attendees. So they could have a copy of it. And he said, Oh, the acoustics and sound in this room are terrible. never gotten a good recording in this room. And I said no, it’s okay. I’ve got got my phone, I brought a tripod, and I’ve got my microphone. And he was like, I’m sorry, what do you have? And I showed him the microphone. And he’s like, Oh, my God, look at one of these. Where can I get one? And I was like, I don’t know, I guess I could make you one. He was like what? And so a week later, just a week, a week later, we shook hands agreed to take the microphone to market manufacturer take it to market. 90 days later, it launched 90 days later, that is a phenomenal amount of time. So easy. So and this is obviously a physical thing. There are electronic components is technology. There’s branding, the packaging. So where do you even begin? Is this something like those first ones in 90 days? Did you make them you were in the UK at this point? Did you make them in the UK? Or were you able to get them immediately Southern manufacturing in in low cost countries?

Well, yes, we did both. So we actually had a partner in the UK. So that was of all the lessons I learned its partner with somebody who knows what they’re doing. If you don’t, we clearly did not as the case turns out, I had never manufactured anything, I had never created a physical product before. So I my background is in software, enterprise software. So you know, not a big physical product space. Well, I have a background in sales and marketing. And Steve has a background in sales. Neither one of us are electrical engineers. So we really partnered with, again, a connection that somebody new in the UK, because that’s how a lot of business gets done there. We partnered with a connection, and it was a company in Essex, and they have 30 people that work for them in China that actually do what we needed, which was they help product entrepreneurs, source, manufacturing facilities, and they do everything all the communication with China is done through our partner. And they’re still a partner today. So in that way, they take it all that back and forth, that usually is kind of going on and, and and we we have a product, we’re involved in a separate product, which is also partly manufactured in China. And and I know the challenges that can have when your products being made dices dances miles away from you, as well. So they wait. And when it came to things like quality, quality control, how do you ensure that things I know you’re everything you do is always going to be high quality. I’ve seen some of your, your kits that you send out the clients, your information packs, and they’re all beautifully done really high quality. So how do you ensure that your quality is is good, where you’re not making in your home country?

Well, we did a ton of prototypes. So before we actually said, Yeah, we’ll take you know, thousands of these things. We did tons of prototypes. And I you know, used to be this kind of laugh between me and Steve and my family, right? I’d be like, hold on, let me get the box of prototypes out. And like every one of them was numbered and labeled and, and it was every piece of us had an impact on the quality. So we had the casing and we had the microchip, like we had made it all the way through this is what we want it to look like this is how it’s going to clip this is what it’s going to do all that kind of stuff. And then when they went and it worked beautifully. So then when they said great, we’ll put all that together and a new prototype for you. They sent it to us and all of a sudden the microchip changed. And the sound was terrible. I mean cutting out and it was I was gutted, I just want to open it up and and. And so it ended up with we only had the one prototype, I given it to Steve to take to the states because he was meeting with some American speakers and I wanted to get some early adopters and influencers in the States. And it ended up with Steve at a restaurant at like six o’clock in the morning with a tiny eyeglass screwdriver that he’d had to go and purchase from a local drugstore disassembling our tiny little microphone and Steve blind as a bat, right can’t see anything without his glasses bleary eyed in the morning, right? He’s got his glasses on, we can hardly see. He’s disassembling the microphone. And I’m like, I need you to take a picture of the microchip that’s inside that microphone, because that’s the micro that’s the microchip that works. And it was just this, you know, was it was an adventure, like every day was an adventure.

And when you again that those prototyping, you get in that first feedback from users, I from speakers, what kind of things would be saying what were the things you’ve you said, Oh, you know, we need to we need to work on that we need to develop money to make that better. Well, one of them a great example. And this is why there’s a lot of value in taking product, progress to the market. So our case for Hey, money is a little black zipper case. But we had shared some pictures on Facebook, of the early prototypes of the case. So this was done in the UK. So we had the case. And we went to our partner in the UK. And we were there as he was. So they were live silk screening them in front of us. So he gotten us a dozen cases, and he was silk screening them. And it was amazing to watch our logo and product information mean, there’s some moments during the process where you’re like, Oh my gosh, it’s real. It’s totally real. Um, and so we had showed these pictures. And our plan had been to put two microphones in this case, and everybody was like, that’s a really big case. I don’t think I want to put that in my bag. Like, I’m not sure I want that bigger case. And I was like, Oh my gosh, the gazes do big change. So we were constantly kind of trying things out and putting sample videos out and asking for feedback and asking for use cases. And even then, you know, we’ve been we’ve been shocked and surprised at what the use cases have been framed like. So they weren’t what we thought they would be, which is often the case products take on a life of their own.

Which markets did you end up finding maybe outside of speakers that actually have really taken to the product? Well, video bloggers would be one. But the array of video bloggers is substantial. Horse trainers and physical therapists and people that want to make videos for YouTube for all kinds of reasons. But mostly they’re in a position where they can’t be next to a microphone so they’re out in the wild somewhere doing something. One of our favorite customers is always sharing videos online and they are the stand up paddleboarding Association and the stand up paddleboarding Association. They take the mic and they clip it to a paddle. And then she does paddle interviews. So she takes your paddle all over it. And it’s they’re hysterical. I encourage you to go look at them. She’s doing interviews all the time and all these paddleboarding what you just described there but getting that feedback, putting things up getting feedback, and changing the packaging GU that’s, I guess what we would call incremental innovation, lots of small steps, making things better better. So this kind of ties in because you this is a topic you actually speak on you speak on incremental innovation, as well. So that brings us back. So you go launch this product out into the market. Now I know a lot of not just early adopters, now we’re getting more speakers are the markets people are buying it. Where does this is this really just is a product ending up just a is the play really is just as a way of creating some residual income alongside your speaking business or is actually isn’t really part of your business. What’s the What role does it serve now.

So my business model overall, is that my target is that by within the next 12 to 24 months, product sales for all of my products, not just Hey, Mike, but all the products that I create and launch, the product sales for all of those will pay all of our bills as a family. So residual income, for sure, is the primary thing. Now as a bonus, it is also part of the stories that I tell when I speak. So it’s a story generator, and residual income. It’s also proof point for what I do as a speaker, you know, I talked about innovation, I talked about inventing makes sense then that I need to have examples for that. I going back it goes back to that when you said you your positioning your positioning yourself not just a speaker to market but someone that really understands you’re an inventor as well, so that every time you tell that story is adding a stronger and stronger kind of proof points, as well. And one thing I have to ask about Mike, I’m always intrigued by this is, I think as a guy speakers, we have it super easy, because we usually have like this microphone holder called a tie. But we just clip it the thing I’ve seen how that you can either clip it there, but when you’re working some of the women’s speakers. And I know this for you know, speakers have had to have the clip on packs for your head. You got your headset mic, you’ve got all these different things that can have going on. You haven’t attached yourself. And Was that something you thought about in terms of where they’re actually going to attach?

Absolutely. I thought about it, we actually have the Hey, Mike has two back so one is a cliff. And then the other one is a magnet. So I can magnet it appear magnet over here, here here or so I can bag that anywhere. Just say that magnetic magnet magnet ties it somewhere on my shirt. Yeah. So we did I did think of that in the design. Turns out it’s not really used as much as I would have thought that’s the other thing about product. Boy, you just things that you are like, we have got to have this everybody’s going to want this is the critical feature. And then you just find out nobody’s ever once used it. Yeah. Hey, Mike has a has a plugin to listen on headphones. So if you wanted to listen back, you know, to a video on your headphones right after you record it you could not remember
is that the danger of feature creep? Sometimes it can it comes into. So you’re, you’re now you’re now you’re back in the US, you’re now building your speaking business back in the US to the product to just can take on a life of their own as well. How does it feel being back in the US and building us speaking business? Do you feel that your this is a relaunch? Or do you feel like you’re launching for the first time you’re speaking? What Where’s your head out with it?

Well, I think it’s it’s probably more of a relaunch, because my branding and my marketing are all pretty solid. So it’s not as if you know, like I was when I started in the UK, I wasn’t really sure what my brand would be I wasn’t, you know, I didn’t have all my collateral created. I didn’t have all of those kind of pieces and parts and even messaging to a certain point. So I initially started speaking almost exclusively about sales. And it was a good year and a half or two years before I had a conversation with a friend of mine who you might know Donna St. Louis, who is also a global speaker. And I remember, you know, at that moment going, I just you know what, I like sales, but just doesn’t really kind of get me up in the morning. She’s like, why are you talking about innovation? I’ve already launched him like, I was always talking. She was like, why are you talking about innovation? And I was like, Yeah, I could do that. But really, that’s quite, that’s quite common, I see that we’re, initially when people start with their speaking Korea that come from a particular industry, they have a particular skill set. And that’s the first thing that they go to. And actually, that makes a lot of sense to do that. Because you understand the pain points of your of your clients, because you’ve lived that you’ve been in that world. So I would say that’s actually a good thing to do. But then after a while, you discovered maybe that’s not the thing that you really want to spend the next 10 years building. So you say, so you’ve made that you’re now making that transition into the innovation as well.

And once you’ve got all those proof points at the same time, and I’m guessing you can it’s not that you’ve given over, given off the sales, you’re speaking to the sales groups, that it’s just you’re adding a new product line to what you’re doing. Yeah, so it was always I was always talking about improving sales, which is really what innovation is, innovation is just about, it’s about improvement always. And even the things that I was saying to sales, I could just as easily called them innovation as sales. So I have a program that’s called Little Big Bangs for sales. And it’s largely the same content I always delivered. It’s just now it’s under the banner of innovation for sales, as opposed to sales being innovative. So it’s just kind of a different entry point into it. I think the way that I would describe it to especially new speakers coming in is that you start your first year to on a pendulum. So you know, you’re kind of constantly trying out new things. And then what ends happening over time is that you kind of center, and then you go, that’s where all the pieces have come together. And it’s everything from who you know what audiences like the way that you deliver what audiences resonate with your message, what audiences can afford to pay you the fee that you want to earn, who, you know, the collateral, everything, all of that starts to come together. So that you start to feel like you yourself are a cohesive package, that you are able to bring yourself onto the stage. I’m not a super serious person, you know, I’m not going to get up and make people cry during the keynote. And, and it’s important that I know that so that I can brand myself properly. And I wouldn’t want an audience to have a different expectation of me. So everything about my collateral, my packaging, my marketing, my website, all of that has to come together and the message has to come together to truly represent who I am so that when customers buy me, and they buy the services that I offer, they know exactly what they’re getting. And when I arrived, they think that was exactly what I was expecting.

And you mentioned those early mentors you had with Alan Stevens with Jane Atkinson as well, you also speak as you member now as well. What are some of the values of the things you find really useful? Being a speaker as you member? Well, definitely for me, it’s about process. You know, this is not, you know, my goal is not to spend 24 by seven, you know, doing business building. You know, I like to systemized and automate as much as possible my CRM thing of beauty. CRM is an automation is absolutely one of those things that really works well, if you have an incremental innovation mindset. Because if you’re constantly just building and building and making things better and more refined, yes, and that’s, so to me, system icing is always what I’m looking for, you know, a slightly better turn of phrase, a slightly better process, a way to get out of me doing everything. So that’s always a big a big challenge and a big priority. For me, my time is limited. Every hour that I spend doing something that is not directly related to me selling myself and being on stage and delivering. That’s time, that’s time that’s money out of my pocket. So if there’s other things that people can do besides me, that’s what I need to focus on. So there’s a another great speaker that I really admire, is worried Aiden, I don’t know if you know, worried, worried AJ, fantastic, brilliant. And, you know, one of worries, talks, one of his books is actually you know, about this idea of, of do things today that will make more time for you tomorrow. So you’re really about investing your time.

And so I’m a huge fan of investing my time like that. That’s a big part of my business processes. Wherever I can learn processes. That’s what I’m after. You know, I do really well, it is kind of learning craft. And I do think that’s important to invest in learning craft. But again, if I can’t get my business running and keep it running smoothly and profitably, good margin, doesn’t matter how good I am on stage. And there’s great books all around there in terms of things like, you know, the E myth revisited. Michael Gerber talks about building systems, I’m always in working with our team building standard operating procedures and, and then ways of doing things, then we basically test like you do with your products, then we find the stuff that works. And then we share that with the speakers, you members. And the things that don’t work so well. You get killed off and put down to to experience as well. So talk will be talking about tools here, products. Are there any tools that you find particularly useful in the in what you do as a speaker. I have a ton of fans tools. Right now I have my CRM, which has proved to be really, really valuable to me, because it’s actually very broad. So I use Zoho one. So it’s really specific user one and Zoho one is a, you pay one fee per employee of your company. The reason that’s important is most of us are solo printers. So while I have people that work with me, they’re all contractors, and they’re not officially employees of my company. So and I get them licenses, but I’m not required to buy license for all of them. So for $30 a month, I have access to about 20 or 30 different sets of functionality. The CRM is only one of them. So with Zoho one, I replaced Dropbox, I use it for my email marketing.

I use it for my social media scheduling. I use it for my election signatures for contracts and agreements. I use it for my sales IQ, and it has the capability of doing chatbots. I mean, this thing is massive, all the things that it can do all for $30 a month. So I’m a big fan of streamlining because juggling lots of tools is always problematic. Another one that I really like, is a tool called dachshund. So dachshund is a document sharing platform. But it’s largely it’s very intelligence based, which means that every time I create a proposal, for example, to speak or whatever it is that I’m doing speaking, every time I create a proposal, I send that proposal out using a DOCSIS link. And that docs and link then tells me I get an email as soon as they open it. I can look at that and see how much time they spent on every page of the proposal. I can require an email so that when they access that proposal, I can see specifically who was looking at it, and when then that provides me with a lot of intelligence about what are they most interested in, and who’s looking at it. And I can see even things like, I use the same tool to do things like after event reports. So I do beautiful after event summaries that I give back to the event organizer. And there’s all kinds of reasons why. But when I do that, now they have a reason to meet with me to go over the event, because I’m giving them something I’m giving them this great product that they can share on the company about the success of the event. But I can also include things like next steps on there. And I’ve had instances where I’ve thought a conversation has kind of gone quiet, or I’ve thought a deal was lost.

And two months later, they’re opening that same document again. Yeah. And I wouldn’t have any way to know that if I didn’t have a tool that delivered that. And I think that’s because a lot of decisions, especially associations that being made by committee is when it comes to speakers. So you’re able to see who the committee members are who’s sharing who’s seeing it, I use this I do as a slightly similar thing, or but I use video I do. I used to call bom bom by filming a quick video. And it goes out to the process contacted me initially, after I had a discussion with him. And I get it, I see it getting shared with all the other committee members. And like you I just had one this morning, I just saw where I thought an event and kind of it was like going away, it’s been a long time hadn’t confirmed. And suddenly you start getting notifications and single they’re opening and so they must now’s probably a good time to to reach out to have that that conversation. That’s a great one. So doc send I’m going to put there and any others, any others that you find really useful. Okay, this one’s going to be like a bit of a shocker being most valuable tool in my business. I’m in every single day, extensively his PowerPoint. I know people are like, oh, PowerPoint, oh, we hate slides and presentations. I do use PowerPoint for presentations. That’s true. But what I actually use PowerPoint for more is all of my collateral is done in PowerPoint. So unless it’s collateral that I’m truly sending, you know, like if I’m doing big graphics for like a show stand or something like that, all of my collateral is done in PowerPoint, and I’m just going to you, I’ll make examples of these available. But like everything that I do is done in PowerPoint. So all my Word documents, you know, things that are in letter size, everything all done in PowerPoint, really well, I didn’t I’ve never used it for that I’ve only ever used of presentations. But now you’ve you’ve you’ve turned me attached to using PowerPoint for something a little bit more?

Well, the thing is, is that there are a ton of tools out there. But the truth is, is that as speakers like how many tools can you really master you know, and the more you kind of go off and master Adobe Photoshop, or you go and master in design your master something, you know your brains on me. So, you know. So at a certain point, you’re taking time away from mastering that I am a master of PowerPoint, in large part because I use it all the time for all kinds of things. So I’ve used it to do if I can give you a good example, I have one laying around my desk. But like I have voting cards that I use, I design those in PowerPoint, and then I just turned them into print graphics. So you know, that is probably the most valuable tool because it’s a tool I always have. I always feel comfortable with editing it. It’s got just enough flexibility, but not too much. So it’s it’s been a massive improvement to my business. But you said yourself, James, I am a nerd when it comes to the quality of my brand. And my collateral. I love good collateral. And yeah,
all great, we’re going to put all those here as well, all those links, what about if you do recommend one book to listeners, one that you think they should read it and but growing this speaking business could be on the speaking industry, or it could be a book is completely unrelated to speaking, but it’s just a good one to read in terms of business.

You know, I think one of the best books I’ve ever read is, it’s actually not about speaking at all. But it’s called the four steps to the epiphany. And it’s really about understanding markets, and finding market potential. It’s really about products. But I just remember reading it and thinking, My gosh, this is the slap in the face that I’ve needed my whole life that said, stop building it. But you know, we always assume that it’s like Sim City, you know, we put down a hospital in Sin City, and everybody just starts driving there, you know, and it’s not the case. So I always find it fascinating now to go, Okay, I shouldn’t build anything that I can’t prove there’s a need for or prove that there’s value for Yeah, that’s true of my speeches. That’s true. My programs, that’s true of my products that I launch. So to me, that was a big, kind of that was an epiphany, four steps to the epiphany. Fantastic. We’ll put that link down here as well. And I think you also mentioned that you had something that that listeners can can get from you, you had a document, I think that we’re going to put a link here to as well. And that’s all related to the the product side, what we’ve kind of been covering a little bit about on this on this interview as well. Yep, yep, I’m happy to make those resources available. Fantastic. We’ll put a link to take you on to Julie’s site. And a final question for you. I want you to imagine you woke up tomorrow morning, and you have to start from scratch. So you’ve got all the skills, all the knowledge you’ve acquired over the years, but no one knows you, you know, no one, what would you do? How would you restart things?

That’s a great question. I would I would join the NSA or the PSA. I would I would find a community. Because in that community, you now start to get exponential reach. So, you know, in terms of getting your name out there, it’s really hard to do it on your own. I think you know, you’re just one voice talking about you. I think it’s really important to have a network of people that understand you know what you’re doing and can help you to find your market and reach it faster. Fantastic. Great advice. Good, good advice. If people want to connect with you to learn more about what you’re doing, where’s the best place to go and do that and if they want to learn more about Hey, Mike, this is strictly for speakers. Where should they go for that? So my website of course is Julie homes.com.
Just like Sherlock Holmes but the Julie version of that and for Hey Mike It’s lovely. Hey Mike lovheymic.com love Hey Mike calm so you can learn more about hey Mike there to connect with me and learn more about what I’m doing LinkedIn is a great place.

So you can get ahold of me on LinkedIn or any of my social media channels and here’s another tip for everybody if you ever use link shortening, so all my social media channels can be found by going to Julie homes dot VIP forward slash LinkedIn forward slash Instagram forward slash Twitter forward slash YouTube, all of those so just Julie homes dot VIP forward slash, insert the social media platform and you’ll be directed to my profile. Fantastic. Well, Julie, thank you so much for coming on today and sharing your insights. I think what you’ve done not just know speaking side, but also building these products out is a really smart thing to do. And I know you’re really passionate about inventing and inspiring other people to to invent things as well. So I wish you all the best with your speaking and thanks for being a speaker, as you remember, and looking forward to sharing a stage together soon. All right, I’ll see you soon, James.

This episode of the Speakers Life is sponsored by Espeakers. The innovative platform that connects speakers will event organizers and associations. Espeakers provides cutting edge tools that will elevate your online presence. streamline your speaking business and maximize your exposure in the Speaking industry with over 15 years in the business 10,000 speakers in their community and over 20,000 events managed annually each Espeakers is the preferred choice for top speakers. You can create your own profile on a Espeakers today by going to speakersu.com/Espeakers.

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