Culture And The Power Of Great Storytelling with Mike Ganino and The Wealthy Speaker with Jane Atkinson

Culture is such an essential part of any business, organization, and more. It has been running through everybody’s lips ever since and impacting many companies that want to move their people. Taking us deep into that topic and how the power of storytelling sits in between is an expert on both fronts as well as a speaker and TEDx expert, Mike Ganino. He talks about getting executives, teams, and thought leaders learn how to communicate, connect, and engage the message that they want out. He also dishes out some pointers on how to give a good talk.


From one speaker to another, Jane Atkinson shares her expertise when it comes to making people be better at speaking. She is a speaking industry expert, coach, and author who not only helps people to be speakers but become wealthy at that, too. Jane lays down the three stages that makes speaking a profit center, and talks about the path towards becoming a wealthy speaker.

TTL 304 | The Wealthy Speaker


I’m so glad you joined us because we have Mike Ganino and Jane Atkinson. Mike is the author of Company Culture for Dummies. He’s a keynote speaker, storyteller and TEDx expert. He’s a fascinating guy. We’re going to talk to Jane Atkinson, who’s the speaking industry expert. She’s a speaker, coach and author. She helps speakers learn to be better at speaking. If you’re interested in speaking, we’re going to get into that and culture and a whole lot more.

Listen to the podcast here

Culture And The Power Of Great Storytelling with Mike Ganin

TTL 304 | The Wealthy Speaker
Company Culture For Dummies

I am with Mike Ganino who is a culture and storytelling expert who helps executives, teams and thought leaders communicate, connect and engage. He is the author of Company Culture for Dummies and has been named a Top 30 Culture Speaker by Global Guru. It’s so nice to have you here, Mike.

Thanks for having me. This is exciting.

You talk and write about all the things I’m interested in. Culture is such a huge topic. You can’t go to any meetings without hearing about soft skills, conflict and all the things that you probably write about on a daily basis and speak about. This is fascinating to me. I saw that you’re the Head Performance Coach for TEDx in Cambridge.

For the 2019 season, I’m moving into the executive producer role. It’s exciting. We’re the largest and longest running of the TEDx events and the big show takes place at the Boston Opera House every year. It’s a very cool event.

I have a lot of people on the show who had either given a TEDx or TED or they’ve spoken at some of these events. I hear that they’re so different based on location. How does Cambridge differ from someplace else? What would be the appeal to go there, for example?

In the TEDx world, there are over 25,000 TEDx Talks given every year. That’s across thousands of events all around the world. Over 25,000 talks are given every year on a TEDx stage. Some of them are very small local events that are about that community with topics for that community. Some of them are a little larger and more global implicating. TEDx Cambridge tends to be on that scale. Our speakers are not necessarily Cambridge-specific. They’re not talking about things going on in Cambridge or things like that. Typically, we’ve had a lot of folks from the research world at MIT, Harvard, Yale and Princeton who are bringing some big topics that impacts on a global scale. There’s one here in my town and it’s very specific to what’s going on in our community. They wouldn’t take speakers from outside. If somebody from Boston, Yale, Harvard or MIT applied, they would say no to them because they want people who are involved here. At Cambridge, we are a global event. I coached somebody who works at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland and we’ve had people from all over the place. It’s exciting and it’s fun to bring those ideas.

It’s very similar to how I feel about so much around company culture is we have to be able to take these big ideas, these things that can be complex like culture. Who are we trying to be as a brand and how do we work? Something about macroeconomics and the global economy like we would at TEDx Cambridge. If we can’t communicate them, if we can’t make them sharable, if we can’t get our people to be able to talk about them, they’re not going to move. They’re not going to go anywhere. This idea of being able to communicate, whether it’s with stories or creating a story for your audience’s mind, whether it’s your employees or people at the Boston Opera House. To me, there is this very clear through line between the work I do inside of organizations and network that we’re doing at TEDx Cambridge, which is how do we take something that could be esoteric, strange, unclear and make it really salient and real for people so they could do something with it?

[bctt tweet=”If we don’t have leaders buying in from the top, your culture is going to be a problem.” via=”no”]

I talked to so many people who want to do that but they don’t know how to get that message out. You said you coached them, what do you think is the biggest thing that people need to know to give a good TEDx Talk?

It’s about probably two things. One is to think about, “What is the one thing I want this audience to walk away with?” Often, people will come in and it’s like, “I want to talk about going down to the store.” It’s not just going into the store, it’s also around driving and how important driving is. How you have to look at the sunlight while you’re driving and the sunlight changes you and it makes you breathe. It’s like, “We’ve got to break this down and we’ve got to make this a simple idea.” That’s the first thing is what do you need to strip out of this to make it clean and clear? The second thing is how do you activate some stories in here? How do you create something so that people can repeat it? We’re smart when it comes to information. At this point in my life, I have had almost 40 years of information. I’ve been learning, studying and reading. If I could remember all of that, I would be so smart you couldn’t handle me. The challenge is I don’t remember that way, I remember in stories and experiences.

The second thing that I work on with people when they are planning their TEDx Talk and we’re working on architecting the message is to say, “What is the experience you want people to have? When they leave, what stories are they going to be able to repeat? What are they going to be able to say?” One of the speakers that I worked with, Erez Yoeli who was at MIT and now he’s at Harvard and he has also been at Yale. He’s done the trifecta there. He’s a behavioral economist and he talks about how we get people to make decisions. His talk specifically was around how do we get people to do more good? How do we create this altruistic thing? How do we design spaces and systems so that it encourages people to do what we need them to do? Whether that’s to turn off their lights in the summer to keep the power grid from going down or whether it is to walk on the right side of the road or to vote.

It was funny because we were talking about this MIT cooperation lab did, where they were in Sub-Saharan Africa and India, where they still have a huge amount of tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is a very common disease there and it’s very treatable. You can get rid of it 100% but the treatment is serious and it makes you sick. You have to go every day at the same time. It’s difficult in some of these places where that could mean an hour and a half on a bus or something. He was telling the story in his talk. He was talking about in his talk how they created this system of like, they would send a text to the person and they would follow up and I wasn’t getting it. I was like, “I don’t get it. This person has TB, why wouldn’t they go take their medicine? They’re going to die. Why does it matter so much?”

We were working on screen and he said, “Mike, you don’t get it. Some of these women, if their husbands found out that they had TB, they would beat them. They would throw them out of the house. They would be alone.” In the country they live in, that would be nothing. If these men were found out to have TB, they would be ostracized because people would think they were weak. They would get fired. I said, “That needs to go in the talk.” That’s a moment that we remember. Of those over 25,000 talks that are given on a TEDx stage, only about 50 of them make it to the main site. If you go to, you can actually watch all of the TEDx. You could only watch the ones they’ve selected every year. It’s a simple process that he teaches.

TTL 304 | The Wealthy Speaker
The Wealthy Speaker: Instead of looking for culture fits, you should look for culture add.


It’s interesting as far as how you create the story part, that’s probably the hardest part for me when I think about it. I’ve thought about doing a TEDx Talk for how do we get people to overcome the factors that inhibit their curiosity, for example. A lot of the stories seem to pick things that they’ve done or vivid pictures. That’s to me the hardest part and I know a lot of people have a challenge with that. I have had a lot of great TED speakers on my show. Daniel Goleman is going to be on the show. I’m very interested in talking to him because he’s given a great TED Talk. I’m interested in a lot of subjects because it’s all culture-based, a lot of these things who come on my show, the things that they’re talking about. As we’re talking about company culture, I can’t tell you how many people I’ve spoken or people I’ve consulted and it’s always about the same communication-based, conflict-based and engagement-based stuff. We have so much great literature out there that tells us, “This is what you should do to fix things.” If we don’t have leaders buying in from the top, your culture is going to be a problem. If you’re a leader and you think you’ve got a good culture, how do you know if you do or you don’t?

You were talking about there’s so much information out there. A lot of the texts around culture are very theory based. People read them and they say, “That makes sense to me.” Communicate better, treat each other well and it does good things but it doesn’t say what to do it. I was happy when the Dummies folks came to me. It’s the Wiley’s as the publisher of the Dummies books, they came and said, “We think you’re the guy who could write this book.” These Dummies books can’t be theory. They have to tell people what to actually do and that was really excited about it. I thought there aren’t a lot of these culture books that tell you what to do. They tell you why it matters. I loved being able to do that. At beginning of the book, I wanted to break down what are we talking about when we talked about culture and how would you measure it and look at it? One of the things they said that we need to look at and this is something I do whenever I get a client coming in for a speech, workshop or some consulting is to say, “Let’s forget about culture for a minute. Let’s not talk about it as this thing that exists that’s separate. It literally is not separate than anything in your business.”

Tell me more about your business. What’s going on in the business, what’s broken, what’s not working? What do you think could be more effective? Where are things inconsistent? Culture change needs to come through an actual business objective not through, “We should be writing handbooks and we should be putting notes. We should be teaching managers how to communicate differently.” All of that stuff in a vacuum doesn’t change the way we work and culture has to change the way we work. I always start with saying, “What is the real reason you’re here? Why did you reach out? Something’s broken, something hurts, where does it hurt? Let’s see a culture contributing to that problem.” You and I know that the culture almost always is part of the problem. Whether you’re having sales issues, creativity issues, people not getting along issues, turnover issues. Whatever it is culture almost always is a part of that problem. That’s how I always look at to say, “Business person, business leader, let’s not talk about culture at a vacuum. Let’s look specifically at what’s happening and why it’s happening.

[bctt tweet=”Culture change needs to come through an actual business objective.” via=”no”]

A lot of people had realized that there are a lot of factors involved but I’ve never heard it placed quite like that. I liked how you don’t want to look at it in a vacuum. I have seen so many organizations where leaders aren’t going to be the people that are coming to you because they don’t even know it hurts. They don’t even recognize that there’s a problem. They recognize that they’re losing money, they recognize certain things but they don’t tie it into anything that they’re doing specifically. That’s frustrating to a lot of people who work in these organizations because leaders surround themselves with, yes man, yes women. It can be frustrating if you’re working for a company where you don’t think that they have a good culture. Can you do anything from the bottom up or is it time to move on if you think that the culture has got problems?

It’s tough because I believe that everybody contributes to culture. In the book I read about, instead of looking for culture fits, you should look for culture add. How is this person going to add to our culture? How will they make us more of who we want to be? How would they improve it? I believe that every person you hire does impact the culture in some way. I believe that it’s harder to do that, the less authority you have it. It’s much easier to do that from the top down. I did a two-day workshop with the company on thinking about their culture. I did a little bit of talking about culture, then I took the whole team through some work together where they defined what it was to work there, what it looks like and then actually went through this around values and behaviors. Once you defined the values, I want to know because you value that, what are the behaviors you expect of each other? What could people of you? It’s this big group activity where everyone’s working through it and when I’m done, we take the information.

I go back to the executive team always and I say, “Here’s what you do next.” The next thing is that that senior leadership team has to take it and say, “Are we actually committed to doing this, not are our employees. Am I as a leader based on these behaviors that the employees outline, willing to do these things or not?” You shouldn’t put it out if not. It’s not to say that when someone new starts to go out of their way to greet them, leave a card on their desk or take them for coffee. That does change things. That does absolutely make the culture better. It’s much better if that is something that from the top the leadership team does all the time and other people see it and say, “Great.” There’s this company that I’ve worked with called ChowNow and they do this great coffee activity. At the executive level, they are all expected to do it. In every month you’re matched up with someone else and you go and you get a coffee together. The system matches you up, you get a coffee and you just talk about whatever. The executive team is expected to do it as well. If the CEO sees that anyone in senior leadership didn’t sign up, he puts the name on the list and it’s like, “No, we’re doing this.” If we agree that this helps make us better then you’re doing it too. We’ve got to show up. If you’re out there and you’re somebody who works on a team and you think, “I’m not responsible for the culture here.” That’s not entirely true. Culture is about relationships.

The way you do things does impact that. You could go to a meeting and connect with someone, you can talk to someone, you can make eye contact, and you can do all these little things that do impact the culture. If you’re in a leadership role, you have even more power to do that. I don’t know if you’re in a toxic culture and you’re not able to influence a lot of it then maybe you should look somewhere else and say, “I’m doing what I can. I’m being positive.” You’ve seen those people where you’re like, “Wow.” No matter where this person goes, they’re going to be an amazing positive contributor to the culture. That person deserves to work somewhere great. If that’s you then maybe you think about like, “I want to be surrounded by other people like me.” There are certainly those people that no matter what you do, they’re going to be talented and make it. I also think that in some situations that can be hard to do that every day when you don’t feel like anyone else is contributing.

TTL 304 | The Wealthy Speaker
The Wealthy Speaker: Curiosity builds engagement, creativity, and innovation.


You’ve brought up some interesting points as far as the communication. I liked the ChowNow example for. I had Ben Waber who’s a data analytics expert, the renowned guy in this stuff. He was talking about how being on one floor versus another floor, how communication is impacted when they compared different branches of one company. How much more effective one branch was? Imagine if you’re getting people to interact the way you’re talking about at ChowNow that you’re not missing somebody because they’re on another floor. You’re going actively out of your way to make sure you’re interacting. That would support what he was saying of how important the communication to look at these small factors. What you’re talking about is important. I love the names of the companies you work with the ChowNow, Lettuce Entertain You. These are some interesting companies to Snagajob. As I’m looking at these, you seem like you’re a lot of fun to work with. I saw that you do something with improv. I took an improv class the first time ever this year I dragged my husband into saying, “We’re doing this.” It was a lot of fun. I’m curious how you’ve used that to help others with their culture.

It is a huge part. It is in the book. There’s a chapter on how to use improv to have a better team. It was funny when I first started into the publisher they’re like, “What?” I’m was like, “No, trust me, go with it.” I spent a lot of time in Second City Improv Olympic. Those are both big schools in Chicago and a bunch of other, Upright Citizens Brigade. I’m trained and performed a bunch and I use it in almost every workshop. I teach it not as a comedy thing. I don’t teach improv to create a comedy show. Where did you take your classes by the way?

They have a nightclub here and they did daytime like, “Come on in, we’ll teach you some improv.” It was the, “Yes, and,” stuff they teach you about ten different things. It was a lot of fun. My husband and I were doing it for about a week driving each other crazy and having fun with it.

Improvisational theater is a type of theater where there’s no script, there are no props. If we were doing a scene, Dr. Hamilton and I would walk out on stage and we would get a suggestion from the audience. Right there in front of everyone we would create something together and it’s funny. A lot of people say, “They’re creating something out of nothing.” What I think is different about improv is we’re creating something out of everything. No matter what we’re doing, we’re listening to each other. We’re watching each other and we’re saying, “How do I build on that idea?” You said, “Yes, and,” which is the cornerstone of all improv. Second City has its own kind of ideology. Improv Olympics does and Upright Citizens Brigade but at the end of the day, they’re all based on this cornerstone of saying yes, and. What that means is that we have to accept the base reality.

If you walk into a scene and you said, “I’ve prepared this large bowl of Cocoa Krispies and I brought two spoons, let’s dive in.” I’m going to listen to that. I’m going to accept the fact that there’s a bowl of Cocoa Krispies. There are two spoons and you want us to eat it together somehow. My job is to say, “Yes, I accept.” Add more detail to it, keep heightening it and we keep doing that together, which is the rule of improv. We learned to make things up together. Think about these meetings. Think about meetings you’ve seen with clients or folks you’ve worked with and think about often we say, “Yes, but,” in a meeting,” or we say, “No,” in a meeting. I was working with the team. They were trying to create some creative ways to tell X, Y and Z story with their company. I watched a senior leader, a VP level person who got a bunch of people together in a room and said, “We’re going to brainstorm. Let’s come up with some ideas. You all have to contribute. I want your ideas. I want you to share.”

The first three people that shared literally the words that came out of his mouth were, “Yes, but we can’t do it because of this,” or “No, I don’t think that’s what we’re going for.” After that, I wrote it down. Three people added ideas and after that, no one added ideas. He stood in front of the room was like, “Come on, you’re supposed to be contributing. This is supposed to be all of us working together, let’s try.” I thought you don’t get that many chances to tell people I don’t care what you said before they stopped contributing. Think about how many organizations that’s happening in a macro and a micro level, where we shut down and we’re not contributing anymore. When I go into organizations, we’re talking about teamwork, collaboration and culture, this “Yes, and,” methodology has to be part of it. It has to be part of how we work together because it’s the core about, one, listening to each other and two, building something together, which is what most organizations are trying to do. Improvisational thinking comes into almost all of the work I do.

[bctt tweet=”Everybody contributes to culture; culture is about relationships. ” via=”no”]

That ties in so well into my research into curiosity and the factors that hold people back from being curious. In the CCI instrument I created, there were four factors in there fear, nobody wants to look bad. If you’ve been shut down you to get “Yes, but,” instead of a “Yes, and,” or a “No, but.” There’s so much fear associated and assumptions, technology and environment were the other three. I had four factors and the environment, it could be a previous environment where they shut you down and you don’t even know that these people have had that. I love the idea of using improv in my curiosity training. I had considered that and you’re giving me more ideas. I tied in so many things of how curiosity builds engagement, creativity, innovation and you’re tying all that in by saying, “This is what’s holding them back.” I love the improv idea, thank you for sharing that. You said you included that in Company Culture for Dummies. What do you think are the top chapters you think people are most interested in?

There’s been a lot written about mission, vision and values. I covered it in my way and I broke it down into how would you lead a workshop? There’s a 90-minute workshop around uncovering your values and behaviors. That’s been covered so much by a lot of folks. In part four of the book, it’s all about managing the culture and so there are chapters there on how to improve communications. The improvising chapter, creating a feedback-rich culture, that’s all there. This one’s been getting a lot of positive praise. There’s a chapter called Producing an Inclusive and Diverse Place to Work. I think it’s so timely and it’s not about so many of these things that are out there that you can read quickly on websites. Diversity is important and we should do it but it doesn’t say, “What’s actually getting in the way of it? What do you need to do?” In this chapter, I tried to break it down to say these are the policies you have that are messing with your attempt to be inclusive. These are the types of things people do that stop inclusivity. These are the types of behaviors that happen. I wanted to give people some things to do. That chapter’s been getting a lot of positive feedback from people. I wrote a chapter on reviewing the performance review and getting some ideas of what to do instead it.

In that chapter, I tried to reset the goals to say, “Everyone’s talking about performance reviews. Should we do them? Should we not do them?” Let’s go one step further and say, “Why aren’t we doing it in the first place? What is the goal of this process?” Can we look at the goal of that process and say, “If that’s what we want to achieve, forget everything we know everything we’ve done. What are some different approaches to it?” I took two ways. One was if you’re HR department designing the process, here’s what you might consider. I said, “There are going to be people who read this book, who are in big organizations where the HR department doesn’t change the process.” I wrote a part in there about as a manager, you don’t get to abdicate responsibility to the HR department because they designed a process you don’t like. You are still responsible for sitting down in front of someone and communicating the information. I rarely see an HR department that tells you exactly how you have to do that. You have a lot of flexibility. If I’m your employee, when you sit down with me you have a lot of flexibility in the words that you actually say and the intention you have in that process. That is completely ownable by the manager. I wrote a whole section in there about regardless of what your company has designed for the paperwork, you still get to decide what happens when you sit down.

That’s so important and everything you’re talking about is important in our working environment. I think culture is at the top of everybody’s list of what they want to talk about. I was looking forward to having you on the show and thank you so much for all this. A lot of people will want to know how they can get your book or contact you. I know you speak and you do so much emceeing and everything else that you do, how can they find you?

I’m at, Mike Ganino on LinkedIn and Instagram and all the places so wherever you are, you can find me there and connect with me. You can also find the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, all the places you buy books. It’s called Company Culture for Dummies and you’ll see my name there. I’m excited to have people check it out and connect.

Thank you, Mike. This has been so much fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it. You make me want to go take another improv class. It was so much fun.

The Wealthy Speaker with Jane Atkinson

TTL 304 | The Wealthy Speaker
The Wealthy Speaker: The Proven Formula for Building Your Successful Speaking Business

I am here with Jane Atkinson who has been helping speakers catapult their careers for nearly 30 years. She is a speaking industry expert. She is the author of The Wealthy Speaker 2.0. She does keynotes. She does interesting things. I’m very anxious to talk to you, Jane, welcome.

Thank you for having me.

I get a lot of speakers on the show and I get a lot of people who want to be better speakers and a lot of them would like to be wealthy. We’ll take that word out of the title of your book to describe. There are a lot of people who speak but a lot of them don’t necessarily make a very good living at it. Is that who you address with your book?

I do actually have a different book that is on presentation skills, where most of my day-to-day work resides is in the business of building the business. People who are in it to be professional speakers and to run a business that includes speaking as one of the profit centers. We take them through a process called Ready, Aim, Fire that allows people to get all the right pieces in place and then fire that out to their target market.

What are some of the pieces that people don’t get in place properly?

A mutual friend of ours is Joe Calloway. He gave me the term, pick a lane. Picking a lane means that you are picking a topic lane, something that you are wanting to be known for five years from now. In the ready stage, we make sure that we help people pick a lane and we also help them develop some language that allows your buyer to see immediately how you’re going to help them. We develop a promise statement and some marketing that can help people the minute they come onto your website really see what problems you’re going to help them solve. That’s part of the ready stage. In the aim stage we worked them through the website to make sure that we have all the right components in place so that buyers can see what it is that they need to buy. We roll out into fire and start to get a strategy going for getting in front of people.

The websites are so important, and I’ve worked with Ford Saeks who helped me develop mine. He’s a very big speaker as you probably know. He had a lot of great advice on what to have on the website. You mentioned components on the website. What do you think a lot of people forget to put on their website?

I have the Wealthy Speaker Podcast and I had a woman who runs the meetings for MPI, Meeting Professionals International. She said that video is the make or break. Two minutes of video on the homepage of your website so that people who have an idea that they might want to move to the next step with you, can actually see you in action. She said that it didn’t matter to her whether or not it was you doing the topic that you’re proposing for them. They wanted to see that you can command the stage. I even asked, “Does it matter if it’s a big stage? If you’re looking for a main stage for them, does that matter?” She said, “No.” If it’s a training room, she doesn’t even care. I thought that was very interesting. What we typically tell our clients is we want to show the type of video of the engagements that you covered. If you really want that big stage, with the big IMAG on either side of you, then that’s the video that we want. One of my clients, Kindra Hall, she had this process at the beginning of her speaking career, “We’ll speak for video.” She took speaking engagements in order to get that fabulous video that helped her career move forward more quickly.

I’ve talked to Scott McKain, Joe Calloway, Bob Burg and all the big names and they all tell me that they had to speak so many times for free before they made money. Do you think that a lot of speakers expect automatically get rich doing this or do you tell them that it’s going to take some time? How long does it take before you can start to actually be wealthy?

I’m pretty much a realist about this. The Wealthy Speaker 2.0, either scares people away or makes them go, “I get it. There’s some work to do here.” We talk about it being a three-year process. I’ve experienced before I was a coach for speakers, I was an agent. Probably the best person to gauge from the starting point, from 0 to 80 engagements was Vince Poscente and it took us three years and that was two people. He was out perfecting the craft and getting really good from the stage. I was there full-time marketing in him, smiling and dialing. Back then we were sending out VHS tapes. That was two people full-time in three years. We knew what we were doing. That’s whose story that I use but I do know that it can be less than that. You have to have such determination and we have #FocusedHustle. Focus your time and energy towards the things that will not take you off course.

Vince has been on my show and he’s great. I’ve had so many people like him who have shown what they’ve gone through and how great their end product of what they can do has become. What a lot of them told me is at the beginning they had a hard time finding places to speak. Either they had to travel far and go to obscure places or the videos weren’t those big great onstage videos that you’d hoped to get. How do you get to get to that level? How long does it take until you can get on the big stage with the great videos? How much free speaking do you have to get to get to that level?

[bctt tweet=”Focus your time and energy towards the things that will not take you off course.” via=”no”]

I have a couple of different examples. The first speaker that I ever represented went out for six months and basically spoke anywhere they would listen. She had a new book out. We sold books and so she was floating us with the book sales for the first little while. She handed me this stack of business cards and said, “Go and call these people.” We turned that into doubling our business every year for three years. After the third year, she was making some good money. You start warm, local and then work your way out. Kindra, who I mentioned sent out 600 emails. One-hundred a week for six weeks and mostly she was going after American Marketing Association because she thought that her topic of storytelling would be of interest to marketers, which it was. She went out and did a whole bunch of freebie AMA gigs in order to then launch her business. She’s doing all corporate Fortune 100 work. I wouldn’t say all Fortune 100 but a significant amount. You’ll start to see some traction if you are planting a significant amount of seeds in six months. If you’re going out and speaking basically anywhere they’ll listen, then you’ll see some traction between the sixth to the twelfth-month mark.

Do you recommend that they get on Speaker’s Bureaus or join NSA? There are so many different things you can do. I get contacted by all kinds of things. I’m like, “What is this?” What ones are good, which ones would you avoid? Give a little input there, that’d be great.

Let’s address bureaus. I worked under the roof of Speaker’s Bureau for six years and what I know about bureaus is they do not launch your career. That is going to be a partner that you may want to tap into at some point. What you have to be at in order to get their interest, is a certain fee level typically $7,500 and above and you have to have a strong video in order to capture their attention. Once they start to lose business to you, that’s when they want to know you. That’s what has happened with a couple of my clients, Ryan and Kindra. A bureau started losing business to them because they were dealing a lot of direct business. The bureaus all of a sudden said, “We need to book this person too.” That crosses that one off the list for anyone who is new to the industry, wait until they come to a call and it’s a good rule of thumb. eSpeakers, I heard from the MPI lady, Lori Pugh Marcum, she said that she will go searching on eSpeakers for speakers. A lot of people think, “What does eSpeakers do for me?” It makes you available to people who are looking and there are still a lot of bureaus who connect to eSpeakers to find particular topics.

You have to be careful what checked boxes you check off in your eSpeakers profile because you want to be an expert in what you’re checking off. I have gone onto eSpeakers and search leadership speakers and seen 100 people, half of whom I know very well do not do leadership. Don’t check off every box because it’s there. Be specific so that people will find you in your proper category. eSpeakers is one and you get that free with your NSA memberships. Those two could probably be something that if you checked into it early on. It may be that you don’t join for a while but at least check into it and see whether or not it can help you come in off the island. You feel like you’re doing this business by yourself sometimes. When you go to a meeting it can be helpful to say, “There’s somebody else who’s having the same problems I’m having. Let me learn more about what they’re doing.” There’s somebody who’s further ahead than me. Let me find out how they did that. The community is unbelievable, I’ve learned everything I know from NSA. I have to give props to that. When you’re early in your career, Speaker Match is a great idea.

It gets you an idea of what’s going on out there that’s your typically low and no fee events. You’ll want to probably hop on it for a period of time and then hop off it after a while. There are other things like GigMasters and things like that, you have to see what engagements that you’re getting. Know that when you see something come in your in basket, that there are also hundreds of other speakers who are seeing the same thing and they’re going to hop all over it too. That’s what my question is whether or not you can actually rise to the top very quickly. I’ve had clients though that they hop on the phone, work around the system a little bit to try to get their name and they have gotten some speaking engagements from those services. The ones that are low fee, try it for six months. It would not have that much of a risk.

A lot of the events you can look online to see what’s local, which conventions or leadership forums and that type of thing. Is there one really good site to find conventions, forums and places? It seems like they could have a better way to find calls for speaker proposals and all that without going into each individual site and figuring out.

TTL 304 | The Wealthy Speaker
The Wealthy Speaker: If you’re trying to get ahead of the game of when you can speak, you start early.


Have you ever seen Sam Richter’s search engine? It’s called Sales Intel. Sam Richter is a professional speaker who I would say is a bit of a geek. He loves the whole technology thing. He has this search engine that he developed. It’s $100 a year. It’s super cheap. Speakers get it for half price. If you go to, you can get that half-price fee. There’s a little video there you can watch that shows you. It helps you not try to figure out what you need to put into Google in order to get exactly what you want. Let’s say you wanted to search 2019 Convention San Antonio, Texas. It would do the heavy lifting for you. It’s still a Google search that comes up for you but you don’t have to know as many of the tricks in Google to get exactly what you want. You could say, “Leave out these particular things.” There are all kinds of interesting things about this search engine that can help you reduce the amount of time that you spend trying to Google the right thing.

Do you think it’s surprising that there’s no better way that they get all on an Eventbrite-type of site that makes it easy to find? That was the thing I found most interesting when I got into speaking. I was like, “Wow.”

The research part of it takes a lot of time. I interviewed David Avrin for my show and he talked about having a team in the Philippines that put together the spreadsheet for them so they didn’t need to try to figure out who was the event coordinator, what was the date of the meeting and where it was taking place. All of that came to him in a spreadsheet. He would farm it out using a low-cost service and that works well for him. You’re right, there should be someone. I know there are people out there selling lists. It’s hard to keep lists up-to-date and accurate.

I can’t believe there’s not an app or something at this point because there are so many people who are looking for it. Speaker Match tells you. They’re cheaper, the free type of things. That’s the thing would be nice for everything in general. I’ve noticed with my stuff because I work with curiosity that if I tried to search for curiosity, I’ve got all Mars Robots stuff. I learned quickly to put minus Mars.

You have to know this Boolean language. What do you need to put into Google in order to get that? That’s where Sam has done the heavy lifting for you. He’s got lots of conference lists and employee lists. It’s good for doing research on individuals as well as conferences. is worth a look. The people who are using it and using it diligently are the ones that are getting their $100 worth.

If you’re trying to get ahead of the game of when you can speak, you got to start early. They’re taking proposals how far out, if you think about it. You get a new topic, the new idea then how long is it usually before you could get six months, a year sometimes on some of these events?

She was talking about an eighteen-month cycle for MPI and about a year-long cycle in terms of the planning committee. They’ve got 450 submissions this past time for the Congress. That’s a significant number of submissions. One of the things that she said was to be specific and talk about how it’s going to be applied to their audience. That’s what a lot of people do. They’ll cut and paste submissions into everything without customizing a fair amount. That’s important if you’re going to do that. I was surprised though to hear that they do sometimes pay big stage speakers and they find sponsors for those. They also do pay travel for some of their speakers. I was surprised by that because I thought that a lot of the MPI gigs were going to be free.

A lot of speakers find that you can only go to the one place once because they’ve already had you. They want somebody new next time. It is always having to find new places. Do you find many speakers are able to keep going back to the same venue year-after-year? Is it pretty much one and done?

It depends on their well. Thom Singer, he’s a client of mine and he plays an MC role. He can get back every year but he also brings new keynotes to the table and he can circle back to all of his past clients to say, “I have a new keynote.” If the well is quite deep and if you have several different takes on your area of expertise, you can go back. I’ve had clients who have gone back year-after-year with the same client. Michael Hoffman, with Royal Bank up here in Canada, he had a huge long-term relationship with I don’t know how many years that it spanned. He would do lots of different events for them and started to become the face for them even in their training. It depends on how deep your well goes. If you have one keynote and that’s what you do then yes, perhaps they aren’t going to have you back. If you have some variations on your ideas, you can go back for sure. You can hear the exact same keynote three years apart and not remember a lot of it but still enjoy it.

[bctt tweet=”Working on the craft and getting a really good speech is never time wasted.” via=”no”]

I know a lot of guys who have the same keynote but then they have little networks of other people who they recommend, and they all share, “Use this one.” The other guy will say, “Use this girl.” They all share their contacts. They make sure that they have places to recommend to one another, which is nice if you do only have a limited amount of talks that you give. A lot of people see that the big names from the past making so much money and have high expectations. We’re more of an instant society now. Do you think people get discouraged and expect more or you think people are pretty realistic?

I do think that people do sometimes get discouraged and that’s why so many say, “I’m not going to do that. I’m going to do an online course instead and that will make me wealthy.” We both probably know what the results are of that. That also a very long haul and I’ve done a lot of this stuff myself so I know. We have an online course that has taken me probably ten years to perfect. Not only did I not get wealthy in year one in from the online course, we’re still trying to make it better in year ten. People who are like, “They made $100,000 on their first launch.” I’m like, “I wish I could do it but I have not mastered that.” It’s hard to do and you have to have a massive following in order to make it work. That’s the part that most people are missing. If you’ve been out speaking for a long time, built up a list of people who already know, like and trust you, then that’s maybe going to work for you and it’s a good idea. I do think that we do as speakers need to have alternative income streams that don’t require us to constantly trade our time for money.

The masterminds have taken over for a lot of people too. There are a lot of masterminds out there and some people were making a killing with it. Other people tried to get in but that’s another tough way to go, don’t you think?

I know with my own, I have one called the Inner Circle Mastermind. That’s for my intermediate group of speakers and every seat into the mastermind I will need to sell personally. That’s what I’ve recognized with that. There are some things that I can put out there and people will show up and do it. Something that’s a little bit higher ticket item, you are going to have to sell it personally every time. People think that it’s going to be, “I’m just going to start this and people are going to fall to it.” There’s a process.

You’ve represented celebrities, best-selling authors, business experts, you’ve listed a few of them and I know that it’s a challenging field. I have so many people that are trying to get to be better speakers. I spoke to Mike Ganino who is a culture expert and he recommends taking improv classes. Do you ask people to do that as well? Improv is an interesting thing to help you lighten up on stage.

We talked about Thom Singer and he goes out and does open mic nights, which is so brave. Improv is one thing, improv is way easier than standing out in open mic nights. I don’t ask people to do it. It’s one of those things that you might do once you have your framework in place. Once you have been at it for a while, then you’re starting to look for different things that you can do to take it to the next level. That those are the types of things that stretch you. Being able to deliver humor and the timing of that is huge. We have Kelly Swanson who will come down to my event in February. She teaches humor so brilliantly. She is an absolute master at it. I typically will say, “Why don’t you spend some time with Kelly or one of the other coaches that’s in my repertoire?” Working on the craft and getting a really good speech is never time wasted, is never money wasted because that is your best form of marketing is a great presentation.

That’s so important and a lot of people are interested in what you do and like to know more about your books. Could you share how they could contact you and find your information?

You can get the book anywhere. The Wealthy Speaker 2.0 is also on my website at We have on the homepage of the website a little pop up that has a three-part video series. That will walk people into that ready, aim, fire process that we were talking about. That’s a good starting place and the website has everything on there from soup to nuts of what we offer in. There are a few things that we’ve talked about. The book is the best starting place.

Thank you so much for being on the show, Jane.

I appreciate it, Diane. Thank you.

You’re welcome.

I’d like to thank Mike and Jane for being my guests. We have so many great guests. You can go to The Curiosity Code to find out more about the Curiosity Code Index assessment as well as Cracking The Curiosity Code book. I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.

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About Mike Ganino

TTL 304 | The Wealthy Speaker

Mike Ganino is a culture and storytelling expert who helps executives, teams, and thought leaders communicate, connect, and engage. He is the author of Company Culture for Dummies and has been named a top 30 Culture Speaker by Global Guru. His unique experience as a hospitality and tech industry executive combined with his years as an improv actor help his clients and audience craft the kinds of stories that drive their culture, boost results, and increase sales.



About Jane Atkinson

TTL 304 | The Wealthy SpeakerAs an expert in the speaking industry, Jane Atkinson has been helping speakers catapult their careers for nearly 30 years. She is the author of The Wealthy Speaker 2.0, The Epic Keynote and The Wealthy Speaker Daily Success Planner and Journal.

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