SL057: Hybrid Publishing For Professional Speakers – with Laura Gassner Otting

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Hybrid Publishing

In today’s episode Laura Gassner Otting talks about Hybrid Publishing For Professional Speakers.

Want to know about the difference between traditional publishing vs hybrid publishing for speakers? In today’s interview James Taylor interviews speaker Laura Gassner Otting about:

  • Hybrid publishing and great book pre-launch campaigns
  • Getting momentum in your speaking career
  • The three things you can maximize

 

Hybrid Publishing

Artificial Intelligence Generated Transcript

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

James Taylor
Hi, it’s James Taylor, founder of SpeakersU. Today’s episode was first aired as part of International Speakers Summit the world’s largest online event for professional speakers. And if you’d like to access the full video version, as well as in depth sessions with over 150 top speakers, then I’ve got a very special offer for you. Just go to InternationalSpeakersSummit.com, where you’ll be able to register for a free pass for the summit. Yep, that’s right 150 of the world’s top speakers sharing their insights, strategies and tactics on how to launch grow and build a successful speaking business. So just go to InternationalSpeakersSummit.com but not before you listen to today’s episode. Hey, there is James Taylor here and I’m delighted today to welcome onto the show Laura Gassner orting. Laura is a keynote speaker and author who helps audiences change agents, entrepreneurs, investors, leaders and donors get past their doubts and in decisions that consign the great ideas to limbo. she delivers strategic thinking well honed wisdom catalystic perspective and for my decades of navigating change across startups, nonprofits, political as well as the philanthropic landscapes, and it’s my great pleasure to have her join us today. So welcome, Laura.

Laura Gassner Otting
Hey, James, it is great to be here.

James Taylor
So first of all share with us what’s happening in your world at the moment. Why has your focus just now?

Laura Gassner Otting
My focus just now is that I have a book that came out in April, so six months ago from wherever anybody’s watching this it was came out about five months ago, and I have spent the previous five months just basically, in an all out book launch promotional campaign. So what’s got my focus is podcasts, media speaking, anything that I can do to get the book and the message in front of people.

James Taylor
Now, I was looking earlier, this is a speaker the challenge a lot of speakers have to think about is do they go the independent route or do the Self Publishers say or do they go with a big traditional publishers that we love penguins and random houses? Or do they do a kind of a high Britt type of solution and people like yourself. And I think like Phil Jones, for example, you’ve kind of found this really interesting hybrid space, which is like it’s really worked for you. So tell us, you know, that’s a big decision to make make you in deciding you could have, you could have gone with one of the penguins or big publishers, but you decided to do things in this kind of hybrid fashion. So why did you make that decision?

Laura Gassner Otting
So this is actually my second book. The first book I wrote was a book called mission driven. And it’s about going from profit to purpose, how to go from corporate work to nonprofit work. So I spent my previous 20 years before getting into speaking as an executive recruiter for nonprofit organizations. And I was approached about 12 years into that to write this book. And I was approached by Kaplan publishing, which is like a big, you know, big, big house, but mostly textbooks. And that experience was sub optimal, I would say and it was sub optimal because the truth is, I was a nobody This is they were sort of pre cell into their, into their expense. So, you know, they pre printed 20,000 books, they sold them all out before the book was even written. I mean, that was sort of how they did it. And when it came time to write the book that I wanted to write, you know, batches of sort of your voice and confidence and, and living a full life, I decided that I was still a nobody. And, you know, I’m not Michelle Obama, I’m not Bernie Brown. If I go with a wily or Random House or any of these people, I’m not going to get their 18 right, like, I’m not going to get the best marketers, I’m not going to get the best cover designers I’m not going to get the best editors I’m not going to get the best advanced I’m not going to do and so I’m already gonna have to spend my money to, to to purchase outside of their process people to market the book and a publicist and designers and an editor and and so if I you know, you don’t want to play with the B team, you want to play with the a team. So if I’m going to do this, I’m gonna do with the ATF to hire my own people. So I figured I’m gonna have to do that. Then I might as well keep the you know, massive part To the royalty. So with my book with Kaplan, I think I make 17 cents a book with the book limitless that I did through idea press, I, you know, I get, you know, $15 a book. So I spent money on the front end because I knew that I could move a good number of books. And I knew that the only way that I could move a good number of books as if I had the a team, if I had a great editor if I had a great cover design if I had a great publicist. And so, for me, the decision really came down to do I need the credibility from getting the stamp of approval of a Wiley or a Random House or whoever. And, and then the second question is, if I if I don’t need that, then do how am I gonna? How am I going to move the books and you know, what’s the sort of outside team that I’m gonna need to be able to do that? So for me, it was pretty obvious decision.

James Taylor
But it’s worked out really well for me. I see. I see the book everywhere. I’ve seen it in a number of places and everything. I’ve been to airports. I’ve seen the book as well. And I think I think it’s a really brave decision that you took as well. Because I’ve been to a number of speakers as the keynote speakers, especially, that have had the same experience with you maybe going through a traditional publisher, and as you’ve seen wasn’t quite sub optimal. And you’re thinking like, Do I go that way? Or should I just stick with the way that we know this kind of tried and tested routes? And so I commend you for taking that because it’s really paid off for your your speaking business. And obviously, your as an author?

Laura Gassner Otting
Yeah, well, and if it is, it was an especially brave decision, because when I sold my executive search firm to the team that helped me build it, I also sold the mailing list of 50,000 people that the database, right, so I literally launched this book on day one with a mailing list of zero people. So how

James Taylor
did you build that list? I mean, that’s worrying because I could you know, for something for most of those people that do this, that the hybrid model that you’ve done, they they have a they have a date many years ago in a big list and they’re able to and that they’re speaking to conferences, they can buy 1000 2000 copies of the book. So how did you go from Zero, building that list back up.

Laura Gassner Otting
So, um, you know, it’s funny because I hired a publicist and the publicist said, We have never seen a pre launch campaign as successful as yours. How did you do it? Like, tell us a joke, because every one of our other authors, every one of our other publicists in our house, needs to know how to do it. And I said, honestly, I think I think I just showed up for people for the last 48 years of my life. And when I asked them to show up for me, they did and they did in a really big way. And so I, you know, I think we hear a lot about how we have to have all these, like, pre launch, you know, bonus buys and things like that. And, and, you know, I had a conversation with clay bear who I know, you know, and, you know, what he said to me is, look, nobody’s going to go to your website and say, Well, I was going to buy one book, but now that I see that I could get this and then the other all by 100, right. That’s pre launch bonuses don’t really work that well. What worked was me calling people up and saying, Listen, I need you to buy this book, right? Like I put together a video, where it took me like 50 times to try to like do the video that was like, hey, today is the launch of the pre launch campaign and I need you to buy this book, because it’s really hard for me to ask for something that I need. But finally, you know, the camera guy who I worked with on a number of other stuff was like, Okay, listen, let me just be super goofy. Let’s take one take with you just being like a total goofball, get it out of your system, and then we’ll do a real one. So he presses record and I start singing happy birthday to myself, because the pre launch day is February 15, six weeks before the book comes out on April 2, which is, you know, six weeks, right? Like that’s exactly so what this thing is going to drop on my birthday. So I do this thing where I’m like Happy birthday to me and I start singing. I’m like, here’s what I want for my birthday. Please preorder the book and here’s why pre ordering the book matters. And I explained to people not just I want you to do this, but actually, pre ordering a book helps an author because it shows all the bookstores that this book can move which tells them that they should buy it and they should put it in a good place and people can Under, stay on that. And so when I did that super goofy thing, and then he hits, you know, he hits you know, turn to the camera like, please tell me you got that and he’s like I did and then he starts packing up his camera and I was like, wait, like we have to do the serious one. He’s like, No, no, no, that’s the one Trust me. So I think what happened is I went out and I put it on social media and I talked to everybody I knew and I was just me. I wasn’t Hi, I’m Laura Gassner Adi and I’m the author of limitless I was just like, Okay, this is ridiculous. I need you to do this one thing for me, please. People did. So I think being yourself I think asking for what you need. I think explaining why it actually matters. It’s not just about book sales. It’s about book sales in this pre sale moment, right, like people got it and they understood the logic behind it and then they felt like they could be part of the success like people want to be on on the boat with you. They don’t want to just celebrate with you after be like, Oh, great. I’m waving to you. You know from the side while you’re on the parade like they Want to be on the float with you? They want to feel like they’re part of the growth and the victory and the success. And I think I allowed people to see all the behind the scenes in a way that made them feel part of it. But you

James Taylor
said two things. They’re so powerful one was the why coming into the white piece, you know, obviously, like Simon Sinek start with why you can have coming in with that, why, why now, why why is this important? The second point, was that you, you’re talking about campaigns, and I guess this is where you have a little bit of a superpower here, because you have come from the world of understanding or being more political camp, like political campaigns and donor campaigns, fundraising campaigns. And it’s something I see a lot from me some speakers but definitely from a lot of authors who are maybe not listing speakers is they think in terms of promotions, not in terms of campaigning and over a longer period of time and how things stack and how you build up like like any good campaign will do. So. Did you have if I think I’ve been avoiding a couple political campaigns in the past and I Go into those offices campaign offices and they have a big board where they have that this is the message board. This is the thing that this this what we do today that witness that. So did you for your campaign for your book and trying to get this message out? Did you run it? Did you use experience you’ve had from politics and fundraising to kind of map out a campaign?

Laura Gassner Otting
Yeah, it’s sort of interesting. You asked that because right, as we were getting on this call, I was literally just texting a friend of mine who’s running for congress in the United States. My Local congressperson, Joe Kennedy is going to announce in two days that he’s running for Senate, right. So there are as you might imagine, lots of people scrambling around in my district to run for Congress. So I have like five friends that are running for Congress. And one of them I talked to like a month ago and I already told her I was like on her campaign. I’m on her finance committee, whatever she needs. So yesterday, she texts me She’s like, okay, it’s starting I need to raise $100,000 today like on day one because that shows all the other people get out of the race cuz I got this right like you have to, there is something about that strong. On show of support early on, that places you in position where people say, Oh, I want to be part of that, because this is this is the winner like everybody wants to join the winner. So I it was important to me to think in that mentality that it’s not just like a slow burn, like it’s got to come out. And it’s got to be something because like I said in the beginning, I’m a nobody, like people don’t know me. So like my book, debuts at number two on the Washington Post bestseller list right behind Michelle Obama, but I’m like 9 million books behind her. But the fact that I get introduced now on stage as key and it’s not just number two in the Washington Post bestseller list, it’s number two on the Washington coast bestseller list, right behind Michelle Obama, right. Like I get introduced that way everybody in the audience is like, Oh, she’s awesome before I even speak, right. So there’s something about having, you know, like, you know, those speakers that get on stage and they’re like, they tell a joke, and then the joke doesn’t quite land or like, Come on, guys. That was funny, right? Like, you could like smell the desperation and it’s terrible. The same way you can like feel the momentum of a winner, right and everybody wants to be part of that circle. They want to

James Taylor
feel like the big the big mo the big momentum.

Laura Gassner Otting
Exactly. And so I knew that if I was either I was going to either I was going to do this book and then I was going to like huffing around and create some cells in the back of the room. Or I was going to our I was going to have it launched in a way that the conferences wanted to be in the bookstore, right? And they’re like, and after the speech, you get a book signing with Laura or the first 50 people get her book, like I wanted it to be a hot commodity. I wanted to be something that people felt special that they had. And so I wanted to make sure that I launched it in a way where it’s sort of you know, you get one opportunity to launch Well, I guess you have to because you have the paperback but if you’re a paperback author, then you get one. So I knew that I had one shot to just drive this as much as I could. And what I realized in that process was that it’s it’s, it’s this moment that I’m calling wonder Hill, right? Like it’s amazing that anybody wants to spend even five minutes thinking Talking about a really interesting that I wrote. And also, I’ve never been so exhausted in all my life like and I’ve had two babies and run three marathons, right? Like, it is wonderful and it’s hell, it’s wonderful. But wonder hell is that place where the burden of potential comes and like unpacks itself right smack in the middle of your ego and it’s like, here I am. Serve me. And your burden of potential is only as big as your ego. And what I realized is that conference planners and and media people, and and, and publishers and anybody, they like somebody that doesn’t say, oh, would you please maybe think about putting on your stage, they like people that are like, I’m awesome. I’m gonna rock it. I’m gonna come and I’m gonna transform your audience. You should be lucky to have me. I mean, obviously, I don’t say to that.

James Taylor
Because they’re there, especially in the event planner side that always trying to de risk things for them. They’re usually quite risk, there’s a risk averseness because they don’t wanna get fired if they’re booking a speaker. So they think like, As many proof points, as you have you mentioned, like the Wall Street Journal, being on that list just before Michelle Obama, and all those things that you’re placing there, and they feel that this this momentum is this movement behind you. That’s so it makes it you know, when they’re comparing you with maybe two other speakers like, well, we need to go with Laura because it feels it just feels that this has to it. This one has the momentum.

Laura Gassner Otting
Right when I started my executive search firm, I had left a big, a big fancy brick and mortar, very traditional search firm. And I stole basically the next generation of leadership from all the other traditional search firm. So we were basically super awesome high brand search firm, but like a whole lot cheaper, right? Because I figured out a way to do it differently. I we were a virtual firm, I was paying my people differently. I was charging my clients differently. I left because I knew that I could do the work better and faster with more integrity and more profit than these big bloated you know, bureaucratic organizations. And for a while we were only getting like 50% of the searches that we pitched him I couldn’t figure out why we weren’t getting all of them. It was so logical to me. Like you either hire this group and you pay a premium or you hire us, which are the same people who did the work there. And you do it for a lot less. Why aren’t you hiring us? And what I realized is that nobody ever got fired for hiring IBM, right? Like, you hire IBM, and they screwed up and you go, I don’t know, we hired the big guys, and they couldn’t do it. But if you hire like the little local, whatever, and it doesn’t work, it’s like, oh, well, clearly, you took a chance, and you made a wrong decision. And so I had to figure out a way to have a show up, as, you know, this sort of super impressive, there’s no risk involved, we’re going to do the work and we’re going to be amazing. And I think that’s sort of the same. That’s sort of the same mindset that I’m bringing to the to the writing and the speaking is the like, I got you, right, like I understand you, I understand your audience. And not only is there no risk, it’s actually going to be better than, you know, the traditional stuff that you’ve had before because that’s really boring. So that means that I need To have the kind of publicist that was going to get me on the Today show when Good morning American profiled in real simple and Forbes and Harvard Business Review and all the like, you know, we live in this pedigree centric society where everyone’s like, oh, okay, checkbox, checkbox checkbox, right? Like, you know, the reason that I’m able to walk into certain rooms because I was a presidential appointee in the White House checkbox, right. I didn’t go to Harvard, but I have that, like, you have to have there. There are these. There are these like shortcuts that people have in their minds? And I think it’s really important that you figure out who is my target audience? Who do I want to sell to? And what are the credibility markers that they’re looking for. And once you know, those, then you can sort of build, then you can build towards having those and you don’t have to have all of them, you just have to have the ones that your audience wants. So taking

James Taylor
almost a reverse approach to that. If someone’s watching this just now, and they’re they’re looking at this, whether it’s you’re you’re into what you’re saying just now or any of the other guests we’ve had on summit, and it’s 150 Have them in there. And they’re kind of feeling overwhelmed, frankly, because, well, Laura, she got his publicist and she had this thing, this thing. And it feels, it can feel quite overwhelming, especially if you’re just getting started. Maybe you’re in that executive job just now and you’re wanting to make that place and become that speaker. where someone is watching that is that is what’s in their gut. That’s what they’re feeling just now. Where do they start? Where should they go?

Laura Gassner Otting
So the very first talk I ever gave, was a TEDx talk. So I was I I sold my company to my team. And then I had this like, super crisis of identity, like Who am I when I’m no longer Laura Gassner wedding CEO. Here’s my business card. And so I just started writing a blog and I was just writing about stuff that you know, I was passionate about, and Tamsin Webster who has been one of the guests on this on the show. She is the executive producer of TEDx Cambridge. And she called me up one day. And I was driving in my car. And I had been I had been coaching her about how to leave her company and start her own thing. And so I saw the phone ring, and I knew she was in the throes of this. And I was like, Oh, no, I got to pick up the call, even though I’m driving, because she might be having an emergency. So I pick up the phone, my kids in the in the passenger seat. So I entered on speakerphone. And she’s like, Hey, I saw this latest blog that you wrote, would you consider doing a TEDx talk on it? And I was like, No way. No way. No, how I have no interest in speaking that scares the hell out of me. I know. Thank you Goodbye, and hang up the phone. Of course, my kids in the passenger seat. And he turns to me, he’s 15 years old at the time, and he’s like, so Mom, don’t you always tell me I have to do things that scare me.

James Taylor
She was shamed by your child,

Laura Gassner Otting
always telling me that life starts on the other side of the fear. Don’t you always tell me if it doesn’t challenge me? It doesn’t change me. It’s like so come on, mom. What gives? So six weeks later, I’m standing on the TEDx stage. No notes. No net theatre lights 2600 people go. So you don’t have to start with like big money, big publicist, big whatever. I didn’t have a speech already. I had a blog post. And it was interesting and it turned into something. So all of a sudden, I had this TEDx talk, which had really great footage really great. You know, it’s a beautiful film. And then that got a little bit of attention. And then I got asked to give the keynote talk for the nonprofit symposium conference in Boise, Idaho, the Idaho nonprofit Center’s annual like their statewide gathering, and they offered me 1500 dollars and an airline ticket and I thought, I’ve never been to Boise before. Why not? So I went and then after that, I got offered another gig and another gig and another gig and they came with more and more and more money. And that was the point where I was like, wait, this is a job. People do this. Tell me more about this job right get on stage. I talk about things about which I’m passionate and you pay me for them. That sounds awesome. But what I did is in each one of those, I invested a little bit of money to hire somebody to film them. You can get a pretty cheap film crew in Boise, Idaho to come film you speak for 45 minutes. And so I was able to take footage from this ragtag bunch of like four or five very early, very early speaking gigs, where they filmed me and got some audience reaction B roll, and I put it together in a speaker reel. And then all of a sudden, I was like the Wizard of Oz, right? Like, don’t look at the man behind the curtain. She’s only been speaking for like 14 seconds. But in this in the speaker, I look, I’ve been doing it for 10 years. Right? So that was sort of one flank of the Armada of trying to figure it out. And then the other one was, if I’m going to get paid to do this, like a professional, I should probably get trained to do this, like a professional. Right, so I invested more with Tamsin Webster to help me build out a team keynote I invested with Michael and Amy port to help me figure out how to develop you know, on stage presence and improv and performing, you know, all of this stuff. And so and then, you know, I got involved in speaking spill. And you know, and I and I just got to know, I started going to NSA conferences, and I just got to know other people and I got to study them and watch what they did. So on the one hand, I didn’t wait till I was legit before I started filming myself as legit. Here’s the secret. If you’re giving a 45 minute or a 30 minute or a 20 minute talk, you don’t have to have 20 great minutes, you need like three different one minute bits that are really good that you can then move into different things I gave a talk in, in Las Vegas where they wanted me to do the more junior people in the morning and the more senior people in the afternoon. So rather than go to lunch and sit and eat rubber chicken, I went back to my room I changed into a different outfit, and then I went back into the second one. So I have because I was in two different rooms with two different backdrops so suddenly I have two more speaking gigs. catch up on my speaker reel that make me look real. So these are the things you can do. You can do your dress rehearsal in one outfit and then your you know the soundcheck in one outfit and have somebody film it, and then do the actual gig and a second outfit, and then suddenly you have more gigs and more stages. So it’s really a matter of like, make yourself look legit before you feel like you’re really legit. You just need like three or four or five different bits. You don’t need to nail three or four or five different keynotes, and at the same time work on figuring out how to nail a 45 minute keynote. So you have to do both at the same time. It’s not it’s not waiting and I think most people wait until they’ve perfected it before they hire the film crew.

James Taylor
So once once you were kind of getting out there you’re now speaking you’re traveling all over the place and doing your speeches. And the often comes a point with with speakers where the the start to then decide what kind of business model that they want to have in their speaking because there’s so many, there’s so many different flavors that you could so when you were kind of starting Decide, okay, this is fun. I’m enjoying this, I feel like I have a I have ability to be able to do some do some really high level. Now, what is the model, the overall business model? whether other speakers that you saw out there you said, I liked the way that they’ve built their business or there’s particular parts or what what was the decision you made in terms of your kind of revenue streams how you wanted to what you want to speaking to do for you.

Laura Gassner Otting
So that’s been a little bit of a moving target. Because I’ve you know, I’ve only been doing it, as I mentioned for a couple years, so I’m really still pretty new in this in this world. In fact, I, in fact, I gave that a bit three years now. So I gave that TEDx talk in September of 2016. So it’s, I’m, yeah, you’re I am three year anniversary of being a speaker. And I’m like, you know, making money now. It’s like, so it takes a little time. In the beginning. I really thought that it would it would be like what I be speaking, I would sell from stage I get hired to coach, you know, I would do some writing. And I really wasn’t expecting to write a book. And then I realized, the people who are there, there are several miles of people there people who just get on stage two, three times a week, every week, and they speak. And that’s all they do. And that’s, I think that’s a really good business model for some people. I think I would go crazy if I did that, because I, I, I don’t know how to bring the energy two to three times a week. You know, in the same way for that, I think that’s kind of exhausting. I also have 15 and 17 year old at home. And so they’re at that age where they don’t really need me. But when they need me, I better be around. So I do want to be home a little bit, you know, a little bit more than I’m gone right now. Then I also realize that I’m not scalable. So, you know, when I ran my professional services company, I there was there was a lot of work that I could do, but we could only grow so much until I hired other people to sort of be proxy versions. Me, and if what you’re selling from stage is you, that’s kind of hard to do that, you know, unless you get big enough that you’re like licensing how you do the work and I, I’ve already built that business, I don’t want to build another business in that way. What I really realized that I that I like to do is I actually, I actually love media. I love those moments of the two things I love most I love doing live national TV, right? Good morning, America, today’s show, etc. like asking questions of people on TV and having them raise your hand or not raise your hand and not tirely knowing what they’re going to say but being pretty sure. And I love live coaching onstage bringing somebody up handing them the mic and being like, Here’s 60 seconds, tell us your problem. And we’re going to solve it together in front of like 5000 people, those without a net moments, yeah, where you have personal individual connection to real people, or where I thrive, like I come alive more in the QA and and in those live coaching moments that I would doing, you know, two, three For gigs a week in front of 100 people, talking to 10,000 people is so much easier than talking to 100 people. For me.

James Taylor
It is great that you you’ve kept going back to that. Who am I? Yeah, what what gives me joy? What gives me passion? Yeah, you talk about living a limitless life. Yeah, like how to live a limitless life with limited hours, I guess. And so you’re thinking, Okay, I can do I mean as a speaker, where you are in your career just now. You can go so many different directions and do so many different things with your, your speaking business, your brand as a whole, but it’s great that you are taking that time to be reflective and thinking, Okay, I love that. I love that life coaching thing. how can how do we build something around this and scale as well?

Laura Gassner Otting
Yeah, so for me, you know, I feel like you can do you can do three things. You can either maximize profitability, you can maximize impact or you can maximize your personal flexibility and I have always in Every job I’ve ever had, whether it was working in the White House or you know, working in a search firm or running my own or writing or speaking or any of it, I have found that if I maximize impact the things that I care about doing good work with good people, right? And if I maximize my own personal flexibility, so I have lots of choices, every time you walk into a door or room, there’s like additional doors, then maximizing profitability comes but sometimes you have to make future money, right? And I think that’s the same thing you can go with go back to your first question, you can go with a traditional publisher who’s going to give you an advance and you can maximize profitability there or you can go with a hybrid and know that you are if you can, you can actually make more money later than you know if you if you try to get all the money upfront, I think future money is always bigger than than then then now money. So I try to maximize impact and try to maximize flexibility and everything that I do. And I think the way that I’ve modeled my speaking business is sort of the same. You know, you don’t get paid money to do lots of media unless you’re, you know, like an anchor on you. major TV, but what it does is it gives you social media following social media follow. And and people who are signing up to your list give you an opportunity, they give you an audience and then you can sell stuff to them. So if I create a course then I’ve got, you know, the reason James clear, had a best selling book immediately is that he spent seven years writing and building up an audience and he had 100,000 people on his email newsletter list who listened to him every single week and got great value from him. So when he went out and he’s like, here’s my pre sale my launch before my book, of course, he likes sold 20,000 books the day that he sent out the email saying my books coming out in six weeks, please buy it, he sold 20,000 books. That’s incredible, right? I’d like to get to a point where I have that kind of leverage with what I’m doing. And you don’t often get that by maximizing profitability and trying to squeeze every dollar out of every gig. I’d rather say you know, my, my speaking fees range from x to y, y is full fee. X is like not full fee, but it’s full. It’s some fee plus some amount of book sales or some amount of fun. lineups are some amount of whatever. Because you know, there’s lots of ways where you can define value like my price is x, but my value I can get value from lots of different things. So it might come from, you know, a five cameras shoot it might come from, they’re gonna bulk buy 500 books it might come from, I’m on an agenda, you know, on a schedule with Robin Roberts, who is the speaker right after me, who then sees me and invites me onto the Good Morning America. Right. So like, there are lots of ways to derive value from your speaking gig, which don’t always come in cash. Yeah,

James Taylor
that’s, yeah, that’s and you can make those decisions if profitability, is it your number one goal, because you’re right,

Laura Gassner Otting
I mean, longer term,

Laura Gassner Otting
right? There’s like you need to make like, there’s two different numbers, right. There’s like the need to make number and the wants to make number and the need to make numbers, table stakes, like we pay our mortgage, you got to put food on the table. But beyond that, you know, are you going to get your ego in a bunch because they’re paying you $5,000 and not $10,000 or $15,000, about $20,000 or whatever your fees may be or 1000. Maybe they’re just flying you out there. But you know, the gig where I got introduced to Robin Roberts, who then put me on national TV, which then brought my book to number 121 of all of Amazon that day, right? I didn’t get paid for that gig. They brought they flew me out there, you know, first class great, wonderful. They bought 500 books. I had those 500 books purchased through Barnes and Noble on Fifth Avenue in New York. I didn’t make any money from those book sales, right? Because I could have made a lot of money from those book sales. I didn’t make any money from those book sales. But if you spend 500, if you buy 500 500 books, through Barnes and Noble, they’ll put you in their window for two weeks. So all of a sudden, I’m not getting paid at all for this for this gig. But I go out. Robin Roberts gets my book. she invites me on national TV I do it through Barnes and Noble Barnes noble puts me in their window on Fifth Avenue for two weeks and suddenly I look like I’m the shit right? I look like I’m everywhere. I didn’t get paid for that gig. So people who are in the early part of the career they’re not entirely sure what to do and they feel like maybe they’re not getting where they need to get to because They’re not getting paid yet. I want them to remember that there are so many ways to get paid, paid for a gig. And they should think about what are all the ways that I could derive value from it? Who else am I going to meet? Who’s going to hear from me? What kind of logo Am I going to have behind me on that beautiful film that I’m going to get that I can put into a real? Are there corporate sponsors that that have other events is this the, you know, regional event for, you know, a conference that they have nationally, and I can get into the, you know, into the deal flow? There’s so many different ways when you’re getting started to get to get paid for gigs.

James Taylor
And I think once again, that goes back to it feels all the time, kind of going back to your all those times you’ve spent as in campaigning, understanding campaigns, that’s a classic kind of thinking how campaigning, you’re thinking is like chess moves, how does that thing then relate to that thing? And how can I get it? And so you’re always thinking in that way, you’re not thinking, oh, I’ve got something out. I need to just do a quick tweet on it. There’s a tactical way you’re not you’re not you’re not going that way. So I love that way. So there’s some final questions. We start to finish up here. You talk about traveling and flying, I’m going to put you on an imaginary long haul flight. And on that flight, you could be sitting next to any speaker, author, thought leader living or dead. You could be sitting next to and having a conversation on this long haul flight. Who would you like to be sitting next to?

Laura Gassner Otting
Oh, that’s such a great question. Um, I would say Richard Branson, and probably for a couple reasons. First, you know that he’s gonna fly really well. Right? He owns the airline. But also He’s like, they call him doctor. Yes. Right. Like he, I believe that there’s always a way to say yes to somebody. And if you have to say no, about one thing you can like say no, but I can introduce you to somebody who might be able to help there’s always a way to get to yes. And I’m, I’m I am an unbridled optimist. And so I sort of I love his energy. I love what he’s done. I think he would like if he I think he would love my book limitless because I think it really is. If you if you Richard.

James Taylor
Yeah, nice to meet Richard any virgin? You need to know you need to be bringing to Necker Island soon.

Laura Gassner Otting
Absolutely. I mean, look, I mean, my book is called limitless how to ignore everybody carve your own path and live your best life who has done that better than Richard Branson. So I just I just feel like I could learn a ton from him. And I think we would just have a we just have a gangbusters time.

James Taylor
Fantastic. And what if you do recommend one but not one of your own books by book by another author? Do you think any of our speakers watching just now you think it’d be a very impactful book for them to to read? What book?

Laura Gassner Otting
Do people really recommend their own books? Some people do

James Taylor
something, believe me, some people do.

Laura Gassner Otting
Okay, well, I hope the person who does is Michael Port because I’m gonna recommend his book, which is steal the show, I think, and here’s why. There is the difference between giving a workshop which most people have done before they get into speaking is there’s workshops or didactic They’re earnest. You’re teaching and and and and keynotes are performing, right, they’re motivating, they’re inspiring and the difference is playing big and I think what I learned from reading that book is a there is a difference and be how to actually onboard that difference so that I could go from like I need to tell you this information to ah, right it’s just it’s a it’s a it’s a huge difference and I think that’s that would be I think the book I would recommend steal the show by Michael Porter.

James Taylor
I wasn’t your speaker bag wasn’t that bag you carry with you to all of your various speaking engagements you never never leave home without

James Taylor
a cover up.

Laura Gassner Otting
Pick up

Laura Gassner Otting
um, no I really I’m deodorant. I’m vain. You know I have liked I really don’t have I really don’t. I’m pretty I’m pretty easy. I just get on stage and I’m and I’m me. membership. Yeah, there’s there’s usually not any. There’s beyond beyond like vanity. I don’t I don’t bring anything, because I don’t. I don’t have like super technical stuff.

James Taylor
Yeah, it was funny. I was just I was speaking earlier this week I was speaking in Rome in Italy. And the speaker was talking before me. She’s really she was very good. But she was using some very interactive type of app technology at the same time. And she was getting the audience to do it as well. And when that stuff works is great. It’s fine. But when it doesn’t, when it doesn’t work, and my heart was reaching out, oh, no, because it was just and it wasn’t it really wasn’t our fault. It was the internet connection in the hotel venue was being held. And so sometimes, yeah, simple can be

Laura Gassner Otting
so easy. I’ve only really started using slides in the last six months, like the big keynote I get from this talk, and my slides are like big, beautiful photos. They’re not like lots of words and there’s no bullet points. There’s none of that because I’m not a teacher. I’m a, you know, motivator. And but I gave this the very first time I gave this talk. I gave it in Switzerland at St. John’s University in Switzerland. And I was sort of like my trial to see if I could do it. And I’m literally three slides into the talk. And it’s like, everything breaks like the battery’s dead. I don’t know. It’s just not working. So I’m on stage. And I’m trying it. And I’m trying it. I’m trying and finally I just went, and I curtsied Hello, I, I actually, I went away. And I walked over to the to the stool, and I put the little slide remote down and I did a little curtsy. And then I went, and I kept going. And somebody came up to me afterwards. And he was like, That was amazing. I’ve never seen anybody so fluidly handle a technology problem. And you gave the talk so well without your slides. That was incredible. And I didn’t have the heart to tell him. I actually don’t normally use slides. It was easier for me but

James Taylor
most speakers will use the slides as their crutch they and they and once if it goes for whatever reason, they’ve got their last and then You’d like Michael talks about this a lot about really just knowing your what you do back and forth thinking about the blocking, like in like an actor would when you’re doing and so so that was a great suggestion on the book as well.

Laura Gassner Otting
Well though I used to actually I’ll tell you one thing I used to actually keep breath mints in my bag because I would vomit before I gave any talk ever. But to Michael’s point, like I went from I need to teach you this information to this is the thing that I know in my soul and I believe so deeply that you have to understand it. And that was the difference. I don’t get nervous before I speak anymore, because I’m actually speaking from my soul from my core rather than speaking from just my my brain.

James Taylor
Yeah, well, but any apps or online tools you find any particularly useful you’re traveling a lot obviously as well but and you’re doing a lot of social media. Are there any ones that you find particularly useful?

Laura Gassner Otting
Um, I mostly I use notion a lot and notion is just sort of like it’s it’s basically the way that I communicate with my assistant who lives you know, in a different state who I I’ve only met once. It’s really just sort of like the board that we have. So every every speaking gig gets its own little you know, each column of like, you know, what dates are held and what’s what’s there. And it’s a place to just put all this stuff so that I get everything out of my email box. And I don’t miss, I don’t miss the details. Um, so I use that that also has like a beautiful little social media calendar. So I can like put the posts that I want to have up and I can write them while I’m, you know, sitting on an airplane, and then the people who do the social media posts can go in and link to that and see it. And so it’s just, it’s, we just need one place where every would sort of come together. It’s like the staff meeting sight. It’s the big whiteboard in the conference room that we don’t have, because we’re a virtual company. So that’s really the one that I can’t live without

James Taylor
motion. And then let’s imagine you woke up tomorrow morning, Laura, and you have to start from scratch. You have all the skills or 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.

Laura Gassner Otting
So I would probably restart things exactly how I restarted how I started them when I was 21 years old and ended up in the White House, which is take the Salt Lake, the smallest job you can possibly take in the biggest office, you can get to, like, we have this idea that we have to walk in as like the highest paid speaker and the top line person in the head of the agenda. And the truth is, you just need to be in the green room, you just need to be in the door, right? So like, if you’re there, and you can, you know, you’re like doing a workshop and you’re not getting paid for but you can be in the same green room as Richard Branson, who was keynoting, you have an opportunity to talk to them, but even more you have an opportunity to listen to them, to observe them to hear from them to actually get to see how they do what they do. And you can learn and so I think I think that’s why what I would do, I would just try to get my I would I would, you know, get coffee, just to be in the room where things happen. Laura,

James Taylor
thank you so much for coming out today. It’s been fascinating. Watching your journey which feels like it’s happening in a really short compressed period of time. I know. You’ve all the things you’ve done in your past which have helped you get to this point where the That experience and that knowledge of campaigning, but what you’re sharing today about how you launch your book about getting the big the big momentum in your in your career, and also about the idea of moving from just being a teacher to being a motivator and it will be a huge value for everyone watching So thank you, Laura, thank you so much. And I’m looking forward to us hopefully sharing a stage and and maybe chatting over that cup of coffee in a green room together somewhere in the world.

Laura Gassner Otting
And that would be fantastic. Thank you so much.

James Taylor
Today’s episode was sponsored by speakers you the online community for speakers. And if you’re serious about your speaking career, then you can join us because you membership program, or speakers, you members receive private one on one coaching with me hundreds of hours of training, content, and access to a global community to help them launch and build a profitable business around their speaking message and expertise. So just head over to SpeakersU.com to learn more.

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