RYB 882: Youth Pastor To Paid Speaker To Creating An Online Business with Grant Baldwin

By Scott Voelker •  Updated: 09/16/20 •  6 min read

Today I am excited to have Grant Baldwin on the podcast. We have a lot in common, and is such an incredible guy. His story is full of twists and turns, and it's so inspiring and how he's been able to overcome the various pivots in his life. How he's gotten to where he is now. It was great to take some time to catch up with him, and I am excited to share our conversation with all of you. 

Who is Grant Baldwin? 

In high school, my paster was a positive influence. I ended up going to bible college and worked at a local church as a youth pastor. I had plenty of opportunities to learn how to become a good speaker and decided that I wanted to be a public speaker as my long-term career. 

When, I got to a point where I was public speaking full time and was doing over 70 gigs a year. I was loving what I was doing and paid really well. However, I had to trade it for time with my family. 

I started to have a lot of people asking me how to become a speaker themselves and started to teach others how to do the same. Over time I have focused more on the teaching and training side and now run a training company called the “Speaking Lab.” 

Grant's Shift to Public Speaking 

I felt like I was working constantly as a youth pastor. I was gone to the office during the day and to all the events at night. Then, I remembered that my wife and I talked about it and the breaking point came when I realized I didn't enjoy what I did. I heard someone say that “If you don't enjoy at least 80% of what you're doing, you should find something different.” 

I realized that I needed to find something that I enjoyed more. At the time, my wife was five months pregnant with our first child, so for the next few months, I worked odd jobs to bring in money to made ends meet and support my family. I took some time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life long term. In those months of processing, what I wanted to do was very rewarding. 

It took a couple of years for me to go from zero public speaking gigs to doing it full time. It was a slow build, and I had to gradually quit my other jobs while I continued to provide for my family. In the first few years, there were some great months, but there were others that were much slower. 

Think of it like this: you want to be a steak house and not a buffet. The goal is to focus on doing one thing really well so you can attract the right type of customer and client and avoid the wrong type of people. 

Pivots Can Happen When You Least Expect Them 

First, I started to learn more about online courses and podcasts and wanted to see what it would look like in my world. I was speaking to high school and college students, for the most part, when I started out. I started a podcast called “How Did You Get Into That.” I was interviewing people who got into unique careers and how they got into it. The podcast was doing really well, and I launched my first course. 

It did ok, but I was still trying to figure out what might be better and something that I enjoyed doing more. I made the decision to scrape the career topic and focus instead on courses dedicated to teaching people how to public speak themselves. It was another slow process that took a couple of years, but it was well worth it. 

I like to think of life like driving a car at night. You can only see a few feet ahead of you but can safely drive hundreds of miles that way. That's how it's felt the last few months when COVID hit. Everyone has had their struggles no matter how successful they are, but you can't rush the process when things get tough. There is never a guarantee of success, and it could all come crashing down at any moment. But you'll never know in less you give it a try. 

Have The Courage To Try Something New 

A couple of months ago, I ended up launching a course teaching people how to do virtual public speaking events, and it has been very successful, which actually surprised me. A while back, while I was doing a Q&A with a few of my students, and I straight up asked them why there were all there.

Many said that they had more free time to invest in themselves, and there are a lot of people who are ready to pivot and focus more on virtual events. So don't ever underestimate your idea because you're concerned about the timing.

Final Note From Scott

I am so glad that I was able to have Grant on the show today. His story is so inspiring, and I hope you were able to take something positive away from today's episode. Think about where you've been and where you are going. Like Grant said, “your headlights can only see so far, but that's all that it takes to help you move forward”. 

Thanks again for being here today!

“Remember, I'm here for you, I believe in you, and I'm rooting for you! Now it's time for you to take action and go rock your brand”! 

Take-Aways From Today's Episode

  1. Who is Grant Baldwin? (4:32)
  2. Grant's Shift to Public Speaking (7:38)
  3. Pivots Can Happen When You Least Expect Them (21:55)
  4. Have The Courage To Try Something New (36:30)


00:00 - There's going to be parts of any job that you don't love. You know, it's not glamorous, it's not sexy. That's just part of it, but like a decent percentage of it. If we all have to work, we all have to make a living. We all got to do something. I'd rather do something. I enjoy

00:14 - Way. Hey, Hey, what's up, everyone. Welcome to the rock, your brand podcast. I'm your host, Scott. Bowker a serial entrepreneur on a mission to help you. This show is designed to teach you, to inspire you, to motivate you, to take massive action and build a future proof business. So whether you're just starting out or taking your existing business to the next level, this is your home. Now, if you're ready, I'm ready. Let's rock your brand. What's up guys. Welcome back to the rock, your brand podcast. This is episode eight 82. And today I've got a really good interview that I can't wait for you to listen to. And, uh, this guy I've known for probably just over five years now. And, uh, the cool thing is, is him and I met online and I actually was paying attention to what he was doing as far as a marketing thing.

01:16 - Although he is in a completely different market, a completely different niche. Uh, but I had a friend of mine that had him on his podcast. And then that got me thinking, you know what? I should probably reach out to this guy. And we had another mutual friend, Jamie masters, who then introduced us. And the guy I'm talking about is grant Baldwin. Now what a great guy. Let me just say, this guy has got a lot of energy, kind of like me. And the funny thing is him and I have a lot in common. Uh, I mean he met his wife in high school, was his high school sweetheart. Uh, I didn't meet my wife in, uh, in high school, but I did meet her almost immediately after I graduated. And then from there got married very, very young. And so did he, and uh, you know, we just got a lot of similar outlooks on life and business and his story.

02:07 - Oh my gosh. Like his story is so similar to mine. Not like he was in construction or anything like that, but it's just, it's just crazy how, when you start something, it leads you to the next thing and then you think you've arrived and then you get there and you're like, Oh, wait a minute here. This isn't exactly where I want to be because it wasn't what I thought it was going to be. Or maybe our lifestyle changed, whatever. And then, boom, you got another pivot and then you're going down that road and then this pandemic hits and then your business is flipped upside down. So all of that stuff is what you're going to be listening to during this interview. And it was just great to catch back up with grant. I haven't talked to him and probably a few months, uh, but uh, I said to him, I said, listen, I got to get you on the podcast.

02:52 - I don't know why I haven't gotten you on sooner. And now that we're doing these Wednesday spotlights with these, you know, really stories, but just great people that I want to introduce you to. So again, that's what this interview is going to be all about. You will be motivated, inspired, and you're going to learn stuff along the way here too. So I'm going to stop talking now so you can enjoy this interview that I did with my good friend, mr. Grant Baldwin. Alright, grant. Welcome to the rock, your brand podcast. This has been a long time coming, brother. How you doing man? How's it.

03:25 - Hey, listen, listen. It's been way too long. Uh, you know, you and I have spent already a ton of time before we hit record here. Just catching up on life. I'm honored to be here. I'm a huge Scott fan. So, uh, thanks for letting me hang out with you, man. Yeah, no, this has been a long time coming. Yeah.

03:39 - And you and I were just talking, I'm like, how can I hide you on the podcast for you? Like, no, you really haven't. Cause you were really heavy into the Amazon thing. And I'm like, damn, really, I should've had you on anyway. Just I like talking to you, but yeah, man, it's been a long time and a lot has happened. And uh, I just love your story. And these episodes on Wednesday are always about bringing someone on that has a, a really good story. But also that has pivoted along the way, because I don't think there's any one straight narrow path. It might seem so at first, but then it's like, wow, wait a minute here. I don't really feel I'm I'm going in this direction for whatever reason I need to change whatever. So that's what this is all about. So what I'm going to do is have you give us a little bit of a backstory on grant? Give us a little bit of that backstory there. Grant who the heck are you anywhere? Where'd you come from?

04:26 - Yeah, yeah. Uh, it came from my mom. Uh, so if we go back in time, uh, and high school, I was really involved in my local church and my youth pastor had a big impact in my life. Uh, and it really resonated with me. I was like, I want to do that. Like, that seems like a cool gig. And so that was kind of the path I was on. I went to, I went to Bible college, worked at a local church as a youth pastor. Uh, and it gave me a lot of opportunities to speak and I felt like I was decent at speaking. Uh, and, and ultimately I decided like, I want to, I want to be a speaker. I want to be a professional speaker. I don't know what that means or what that looks like, but that, that just seems like a cool gig.

04:55 - Uh, and so that's kind of what I started to work towards is I met a couple of speakers, was, was stalking different speakers online, emailing them like, Hey, how do I do this? You know, that sort of thing. Uh, and eventually like started to learn a few things was booking gigs here and there. And eventually got to a point where I was, I was doing it full time. I was doing, you know, 30, 40 gigs and then 50, 60 gigs and then 60, 70 gigs. And I was doing about 70 gigs a year and loved it. It was great. And one of the challenges I was starting to run into was that, uh, speaking as a high paying manual labor job and that I would get paid really, really well and to stand on stage and speak, but it was dependent on me getting on a plane, leaving my family, going someplace.

05:33 - And, uh, you know, the one hour I was on stage or whatever it would be, would be a blast, but it was still depending on me going somewhere. So I, I had a job, not necessarily a business. Now at the same time, I was having a lot of people who were in the same spot, where I was initially who were asking me like, Hey, you're a speaker. That's really cool. I would love to be a speaker. How would I go about doing that? And so I started teaching a little bit of it, just kind of randomly here and there. I enjoyed the, I enjoyed the subject, uh, and that really started to pick up more and more. And, and long story short, like over, over time started really ramping that up more and decreasing the amount of speaking that I was personally doing and just doing more of the teaching and training and the coaching side.

06:10 - So if we fast forward to that to today, I run a training company called the speaker lab where we teach people how to find and book paid speaking gigs. And so we have speakers who, uh, who are doing, who have gone through our training stuff and are doing it full time now. And those who are just getting started and those who are in all different types of industries, 37 different countries around the world, uh, as we, we help speakers like me who were where I was when I got started going, like I have the potential, but I need the plan. I knew I was an okay speaker. I was a decent speaker. Wanted to do more of it. No idea. How much do you charge? Who do you speak to, or who hire speakers? Like how does the mysterious speaking industry work? That's what we try to do is we try to help speakers, uh, understand how that world works so that they can, uh, find and book gigs and, and share their message with the world.

06:54 - Yeah. There's a lot to unpack there and you did a great job of making that like really concise, but I do need to go back a little ways. You want to go. Yeah. And you know, okay, so you said, you know what, I'm going to be youth pastor. I'm going to go down that road and you start going down that road. When does that shift, like in your mind? And like, cause I always like to try to unpack like that shift because you're going this, this, this route and you're like, all right. Something in your head changes or something, you see changes your, your path or your, or where you want to go. What, where, where was, where was that I guess, point in your life? What made that happen?

07:36 - Yeah, I think there were a couple of things in that particular role. Um, one was the guy that I was working for. Uh, wasn't the best guy to work for. It was just kind of a jerk at times. And I'm just kinda like, is this, is this the way it is? Uh, and I was just like, I don't, I don't love doing this. Uh, the other thing that was a bit of a challenge was, uh, I was just, I felt like I was working constantly. Uh, my wife and I were newly married. She was pregnant with our first child. I was gone, you know, most days working at the office, but then I was gone at nights for various activities or functions or things I had to attend. I was just gone a lot and it was just starting to wear on me. It was wearing on her.

08:14 - And so I remember, I remember her and I had kind of talked about it. I remember kind of one, um, I remember kind of the breaking point so to speak was, uh, I remember I was at the time I was, I was, we were living in Missouri and, uh, I was attending a conference, a kind of a, uh, youth pastors conference sort of deal in Nashville, which is coincidentally where we live now. And so we were, uh, uh, I was at this conference and I remember sitting in this session and I remember the, this, I don't even remember who the speaker was, but I remember he said something to the effect of, if you don't enjoy at least 80% of what you're doing, you should find something different. And I remember like, like kind of looking around the room, like, Oh wait, did anybody else just hear that?

08:53 - Like, but does anybody enjoy 80% of what they're doing with the reality is like, there's going to be parts of any job that you don't love. You know, it's not glamorous, it's not sexy. That's just part of it. But like a decent percentage of it. If we all have to work, we all have to make a living. We all got to do something. I'd rather do something that I enjoy. And I just, I, at the time I just felt like I'm nowhere near 80%. Uh, and so I remember I came back from that and turned in my resignation and I was like, I don't, I don't know what I'm going to do next, but I know like this, this isn't it. I would say for the next, you know, six to 12 months. Um, uh, and, and actually the backup when, when, uh, I left that role, my wife was, I think, four to five months pregnant, somewhere in there.

09:32 - Uh, first child on the way, it's not like we had any savings or, you know, I'd made a lot of money or anything like that at all. And so there were plenty of like good intention. Well-intentioned question marks from family members and friends like, Hey, have you thought this through like, is now the best time? Like, Hey, all four are fine. And what do you want to do with life? But like, this doesn't seem like a great time. And in retrospect, like, yeah, it was awful timing, but for the next several months I worked a couple different odd jobs. I worked at a first security company doing like residential, like home security system sales. I worked a couple different restaurants as a server. I was just kind of like hodgepodge stuff just to like make ends meet. None of this was like career aspirations. But in part it was just kind of a, I need to pay bills.

10:15 - I need to provide for the family. And also just kind of like licking my wounds and thinking through like, what do I want to do with my life? Like, what do I want to be when I grow up? And the thing I kind of kept coming back to was speaking. Uh, and so it was really those several months of processing and figuring out what that next step look like was, was some of the more difficult, but also some of the more rewarding months of life of going, like, let's go all the way back to the drawing board, you know, uh, if you could do anything, what would you want to do? And there's, there's just, there's far too many people that we both meet that we both interact with the know who are like, I, you know, I got to, we all have to eat.

10:54 - We all have to live indoors. We all have to provide for the family somehow, but like, I'd rather do something I enjoy and you, and I both feel very, very fortunate and blessed that we get to do something that we enjoy, but it's not because like, we're some lucky, chosen few that were given this opportunity, like you and I both been really, really, really intentional to build, not just the business, but to build our lives and the way that we've built them so that we have, uh, you know, the freedom of flexibility and autonomy that we have. Uh, and so those several months there really, really were helpful for me to kind of process some things to get to the point of like, okay, I don't know how exactly I'm going to get there, but let's figure out where the destination is and start moving that direction.

11:34 - It sounds like though, your wife was supportive. Am I? Yeah, no, absolutely. I've always had a, um, my wife has always been amazing. We were high school sweethearts. We've been married at the time, this recording for,

11:44 - I think, 18 years, 18 and a half years been together 23 years. Um, and she's always been like, I believe in you, I support you what you want do, you'll figure it out. Uh, and so that gave me massive confidence for sure. Um, and at the same time I knew like I'm a hard working guy. I'm a motivated guy. So it wasn't like, you know, I'm going to just, you know, give me six months to go hike around in the woods and find myself. It was like, no, no, no. Like I still gotta pay bills right now. Um, we've got this new kid on the way. I got to figure some stuff out and I don't want to dilly dally or D or mess this up. So she was very, very supportive. And, and for those next several months, like I was, I was working a lot of these just kind of hodgepodge jobs just to make ends meet. Um, but I knew like it was, it was temporary. Like we both recognize that like there was, it was, uh, you know, it was buying time and it was leading to something else.

12:37 - So, okay. So now you're at the point where you're like, okay, I'm trying to figure this thing out, your hodgepodge in some jobs together, making some money. Uh, okay. How does it get to where you're able to actually provide for your family by speaking? So kind of lead me into that part of the story. Cause I think that's another part where it's like, okay, you want to do this, but okay.

13:00 - And you do this, like you really make money

13:03 - Speaking. Like really? It's like, walk me through that. Yeah.

13:06 - So it's definitely not a, um, you know, anytime you're starting any type of entrepreneurial endeavors, you will know, it's not like a, you know, on Friday afternoon, you're like, I'm gonna quit my job on Monday. I'm going to be a full time speaker. Like it doesn't work like that. You know, it took a couple of years to go from zero gigs to the point where I was, I was doing it full time. Um, and so it was, it it's just an iterative process. Like, so I mentioned that I had a couple hodgepodge jobs. And so as my speaking business was growing, then I might quit the, I might've left the sales shop or one of the restaurants, you know, and then another restaurant. And I just, it's slowly building there. So it's never like this. I'm just going to run and jump off the cliff.

13:44 - And I hope it all works out. Like it was a, um, you know, you're trying to build up enough momentum there where you're going, okay. I feel pretty comfortable and confident that we can make this work. And I think, um, I think you would attest to this, that we've both been self employed for quite a while now. We've been at it for a long time. Um, and I, I shared this story before, but I remember a couple of years ago I was at this, um, uh, entrepreneur meetup breakfast thing, uh, here in the Nashville area, there was a buddy of mine who was there. He'd been working on this side hustle for a little while. And, uh, he had just quit his job to go all in on the side hustle. As I remember talking with him at this breakfast, it was his first week being all in on the, on the, on the side hustle thing.

14:23 - I said, dude, you're doing it. How do you feel? And I remember him saying like, I I'm excited. I'm anxious, I'm scared. I'm worried. I'm thrilled. Um, all of the, like the whole gamut of emotions. Right. And I remember telling him, I was like, I've been self employed for, you know, at this point now, uh, 13, 14 years, something like that. And I was like, all those feelings don't go away. You know, there are, there are days. You're just like, man, I'm killing it. Like we got this thing figured out. And then there's days, you're just like, well, well, how to go to run one? I guess we've got to find a job. I wonder if Scott's go hire, you know? And it's just like, that's just the way it is. Like, I think one of the biggest parts of entrepreneurship is learning to like to manage the mental highs and lows.

15:06 - Cause when it's good, it's really good. And when it's bad, like it's tough. It's really, really tough. And you have the same doubts and insecurities and fears and worries that any entrepreneur at any level has. Uh, and so, so that was like those, those first few years were just like, I think I've got enough momentum. I think I got enough momentum. And there were still like great months and slow months and everything in between. And you just, you, you, you have to like, um, so much, it was just figuring it out of doing the work. I remember a, a, an entrepreneur speaker friend said like, you have to fall in love with the work. And because like, for, in my world, as a speaker, people love being on stage. Like we love that part, but like, uh, a very small percentage of being a speaker is actually being on stage speaking.

15:54 - Like a lot of it is just the business side of it. And so a good example of this is like in the book, the E-Myth by Michael Gerber, he talks about the difference between being a Baker and running a bakery. Like those are two totally different skillsets. Like just because you're a good Baker, you make a big, amazing bread or cakes or cookies or whatever. Um, doesn't necessarily mean that you can run a bakery. And like, as an entrepreneur, like you really have to have both, you have to wear both hats most of the time, you know, like in your world, like you can, you can design an amazing product, but if no one knows it exists or, you know, your, your costs are too high for it, or you don't understand like profit margins or how to advertise or any of those things, like it doesn't matter how great the product is. Right. So you have to be able to, you have to be a Baker, but you also are running a bakery. And so I tell speakers on all the time, like, you're, you're a speaker, but you're also, you're an entrepreneur, which means you are doing sales, you're doing marketing. You're doing, uh, you're the janitor. You're like, you're, you're, you're wearing all the hats. And that's a that's again, that's kind of part of what you're signing up for. Yeah, absolutely.

16:54 - So what was, I'm kind of going back a little bit, but what was the,

16:57 - How did you figure out what you wanted to speak about? Yeah, I think that's a, that's a big one, right?

17:02 - It's like, okay, I want to speak. Uh, but what I speak about, yeah, this is one of the biggest challenges

17:07 - There's that we see with speakers at any stage, but especially early on is as for most people who enjoy speaking, we just, we just enjoy speaking. So who do I speak to? I don't know. I speak to people, speak to humans, you know, my message is for everybody. What do you speak about, I don't know, what do you want me to speak about? I speak about anything like, and, and you know, you, and I both know that's a horrible approach to business. You know, we were, in fact, right before we started recording, we were talking about, uh, some real estate investing. And we were talking about, um, you know, a guy that you've worked with. And, and part of the reason that he has done well is he specializes. And all I do is this type of house and this type of area, and this meets these types of requirements.

17:44 - And that's it versus saying, like I do, I do all kinds of real estate and everything you, um, so one thing we tell speakers all the time, and I think, again, this is applicable and relevant for any entrepreneur is that you want to be the steakhouse and not the buffet, the steakhouse and not the buffet, meaning this guy, if you and I were looking for a good steak, like we have a choice. Like we could go to a buffet where steak is one of a hundred things that they offer and they're all mediocre. Or we could go to a steakhouse where they do one thing, but they do that one thing really, really, really well. So they don't do lasagna. They don't do tacos, they don't do pizza. They don't do cupcakes. They do steak and that's it. And it's counterintuitive. But by doing that, you're able to attract the right type of customer or client and you're repelling the wrong type.

18:23 - And so for me, early on, as a, as a youth pastor, I really enjoyed working with teenagers. I really enjoyed working with students. So that was kind of a natural next step for me was, uh, the majority of the speaking I did, especially early on in my career was in the education space. So I did a lot with high schools, with a lot of school assemblies, a lot of student leadership conferences and events, uh, and that kind of evolved to doing some more colleges and doing stuff with parents and teachers. Uh, so you can kind of expand over time, but not from the beginning. Don't try to do everything from, from day one. So the more specific, the more focused, the more narrow that you are actually, again, it's counterintuitive, but the easier it is to find the right type of customer and the right type of clients.

19:04 - Hmm. No, I think that's really, that's really important and you're right. Like you and I were talking about that, you know, the guy that I hooked up with for my Airbnb stuff, like he, I call it niching down. He niched like way down, right? Like there's Airbnbs all over the place and you can do it anywhere you want. And he said, no, we're going to do it on the Lake. And we're also going to do high level type houses, like really like premiere like million dollar house plus, and we're going to charge a premium and we're only going to get those types of people that are going to come in. And I golly, he is Ray. He's like, he's like just raking it in all across because I'm just one of his pieces of real estate that I give him the rent by the way, which is crazy. Well, let me give you, let me give you a quick example,

19:45 - Especially specifically about real estate. So our member, I'm talking with a buddy of mine who does a lot of real estate investing. And this was a few years ago. I was interested in getting into real estate investing. And I remember sitting down with him and I remember asking him, um, I remember saying, okay, uh, you're you are the expert on this. So you have all these different types of real estate investing. You have, um, single family homes and you have apartments and multifamily homes, and you have short term rentals and vacation rentals, and you have commercial properties and you have raw land and you have on and on and on the list goes right. And I remember asking him, which one is best. And I remember he kinda, he kind of laughed and he goes, yes. I was like, yeah, like, what does that mean? It's like, they all work. What you won't find though, is someone who's trying to do everything. It's like, you can find someone who's killing it with, um, uh, with storage units and you can find somebody who's killing it with apartment units and you can find someone who's killing it with flipping properties. I'm like, you can find people who are doing well in any category. What you don't find is people who are trying to do everything. So it all like it can work, but again, be the steakhouse and not the buffet.

20:50 - Yup. I absolutely love that. All right, cool. Moving on. Uh, and I think that, that's awesome. So basically you were, you were speaking, uh, to kids, but then at some point you made another shift, which was like, okay, I'm not just going to speak to kids. I'm going to speak on this topic of how to help people actually

21:11 - Speak and get their message out there to the world. Yep.

21:13 - When does that shift happen? How does it happen?

21:17 - Yeah, and I think around that time is when we connected. And so, um, I w like I said, I was doing a lot of gigs. I was doing around 70 gigs a year. And so I knew that basically in order to, to grow the business either had to do more gigs, or I had to charge more and they want to do more gigs. I was already traveling a lot. I was gone 80, 90 nights a year. Uh, and I was on the upper end of what I felt comfortable charging in that particular space and industry. I could have charged more in other industries, but for that market, I was like, ah, I feel good with where I'm at. And so was just kinda like, I felt like I had, you know, I'd climb that mountain to some degree. And I was like, okay, so now what, you know, um, and at the time I started, um, uh, learn more about online business and seeing some people talk about that, talk about podcasting and online courses, you know, come across some of, um, Pat Flynn stuff, our mutual from there.

22:02 - And, and, and just trying to like, okay, what would that look like in my world? And so at the time I was doing a lot of speaking around the topic of, of careers and kind of what we touched on at the beginning of like, figuring out what you want to do with life. And so it was speaking to high school students and college students on, on careers and that sort of thing. That'd be interesting to do like a career podcast. Um, and so had hired, um, uh, our mutual friend now, uh, Jamie tardy, uh, at that time gave me a masters now. And she was the one that introduced us. I think we, at the time, actually, we both started our podcasts around the same time. And so I started a podcast called how did you get into that? Where I interviewed people who are just doing interesting unique types of careers and asking them, how did you get into that and doing it from two perspectives.

22:45 - One being that there's some people who are listening to those interviews, uh, who wanted to do those careers and other people that are like, I don't want to say they want to do that, but if, if they can do that for their careers, really, I can figure out what I want to do. And so it was people like, you know, an NBA mascot, um, a lady who was a, cheesemonger like a professional, literally choose whiz. Um, there was a, a guy who was like one of the top Lego master builders in the world, you know, a guy who worked for Nike and worked with Michael Jordan to design some of the air Jordans. You know, some of those, some of those just type of careers, you're just like, that's crazy, you know, let's, let's just talk about that, you know? Um, and so the podcast was going really, really well.

23:21 - And I was doing some of this teaching about speaking on the side. And so I launched this very first career course, we call it clarity course. And I remember I still vividly remember, like doing this very first launch and it did. Okay. It did fine. Like we've made, uh, probably $20,000 or something, which was still like a significant amount. Sure. There's something there. Like, again, I think another thing that's really important for entrepreneur is, uh, just, uh, um, trusting your intuition and just trusting your gut. And so I felt like I did okay. Can we make it work potentially, but I was still doing some of this teaching on speaking. We're starting to get a little bit more traction there. And I was like, I think there's something there. And so basically made the decision to like, okay, we're going to scrap this, this, uh, career topic and let's do the speaking thing.

24:08 - So we quickly created a speaking course. Um, we did a webinar to around that. And then we just really started to build some momentum there. And again, it wasn't like, uh, um, this, you know, you make the decision on Friday. Okay. I'm done with the career thing, done, being a speaker. I'm going all in on teaching speaking. Like just, it's not like that at all, because while I'm building the speaker training side of things, I still, again, I'm trying to provide for my family. So I can't turn off one faucet until I get the other one really going. Uh, as soon as again, kind of a slow iterative process over the course of a couple of years where let's keep building things up over there and then let's keep slowing things down over here. Um, and that's really how that transition happened, uh, was going, I still love speaking, but I also knew, like there was a cap, there's a ceiling, there was a limit to what I could, I could personally do. Um, and so I wanted to build more of a business that wasn't dependent on me. And so I think, um, I think that we've, we've been able to do that to a large degree now,

25:09 - Couple of things there. So I want to highlight that because, okay, you were like doing your hodgepodge job thing, and then you're like, man, if I could just get paid to speak, my life would be amazing. Everything would be just, and I would just ride off into the sunset and we'd have a happy little family and everything's good.

25:27 - That'd be great. Yep. Gigs a year. And you're like, Oh, wait a minute. This is work.

25:33 - I didn't sign up for this sounds very familiar to my story. We got to, I got out of the construction business.

25:38 - Yeah. Got out of the construction business, started a photography business, thought everything was gonna be great. I was going to be a photographer for the rest of my life.

25:43 - My wife have a studio. We did that. And about after six years where like, we're actually kind of still have a job, like we have to still report and we still have to do this stuff and we can only scale so far. And then that's where we got into the online space, started teaching more on the photography thing. It's just funny how that happens, but when you're looking at it, you're like, wait a minute. If I can just get that to work, everything's going to be great. And then you did, and then it changes. Go ahead.

26:08 - Yeah. Well, what I was gonna say was, um, I've heard this analogy before, but it, it it's a lot like driving a car at night when you're driving a car at night, you can only see as far as the headlights will show you, which is just a few feet in front of you, but you can drive hundreds if not thousands of miles that way. And that's the way life is. Like, even at this point, you know, at the time of this recording, you know, we're a few months into the pandemic here and nobody saw this coming, you know, nine months ago, a year ago. And yet here we are. Nobody has any clue what the next couple months look like. And I would say like, um, I think you and I have been at this awhile where, you know, we have decent size audiences and of people that follow us and are familiar with what we do.

26:46 - Um, and for people who are going and, you know, grant Scott, they got it, they got guys like that and they gotta figure it out. I promise you, we don't. And we are figuring it out as we go, we are doing the best we can, we are making it up as we go. Uh, and there, again, like I said earlier, there are days that are great days. Like, I think we're good. The winds that are back, we're going, we're going downhill in a good, in good way. And like, this is, this is going smooth and days you're just like, I don't, I don't know nothing's working and I don't know why, and I don't know how to fix it. I don't know how to get things working again. And that's like, that's the way it is. You know? So there's no guarantees of success. There's no guarantees that this is going to work and it could all come crashing down at any moment.

27:27 - But again, that's kind of like driving a car at night, you know, you're, you're just driving. I can only see a few feet in front of me, you and I, at this moment, we have a pretty good idea of what the coming weeks and months look like, but it could vastly change. It could vastly be totally, totally different. Um, we have no clue what the coming years look like. You know, it's, it's highly possible that, you know, five years from now, you and I are doing things that are completely unrelated from what we're doing today. And like, you don't need to know, like, doesn't like when people ask me, like, what's your five year, what's your 10 year plan. I was like, I can say some big picture things that I'd like, but what the day to day looks like. I mean, I don't, I don't know cause nobody has any clue what, what life looks like, uh, that far out. So really, again, keep that in mind that like have some idea of what, like on the, on the road trip, driving the car at night, have an idea of where you're going. I have an idea of what that destination looks like, but there's going to be twists and turns and bumps in the road along the way that you're not anticipating. And you can't plan for, and again, that's like, that's part of the journey as part of what you have to embrace. Yeah. No, absolutely. I love that analogy

28:26 - By the way. Cause you can, you can see far enough

28:29 - Gotta go, but just not too far. Not too far.

28:32 - Yeah. Okay. So before we wrap up, cause there's a couple things I want to touch on the one here, but I don't want to gloss over this. You long. I didn't even know this part of your story. You launched a course on career Tata, find your career and you launch it and it does 20 K ish and you're like, okay, that was cool. But it was, it, it just didn't feel right. Or was it like, ah, should should've did better? Or like, what was that thought? Because I've been there too, right? You launch a course. You're like, yes, this is going to be amazing. Then you launch it and you're like, eh, it didn't really hit it or it didn't feel right or whatever. So walk me through that, that point in that story,

29:10 - I think there were a couple of things there. One is that, um, the topic of clarity course was, uh, was helping people figure out what they get clarity on what they want to do with their life, which is a very like, um, good idea. It's really hard to like execute on or deliver on or as kind of this like vague squishy thing. But I knew when people were asking me, Hey, how do I book gigs? I knew there was like a, do you do this? And then you do this and then you do this and you do this. And if you do these things, you arrive at this. And so I knew there was like that there was like a true process of what I could teach there. So that was definitely part of it. Um, I knew that again, it was a very, uh, you know, the topic of figuring out what you want to do with life could, could be lumped into like the buffet category.

29:57 - Whereas I knew teaching people how to find a book gigs. It was probably more of a steakhouse. Like it's a very specific thing. We're not trying to be all things for all people, you know, not everybody wants to be a speaker, but there are plenty of people that do. And we teach that, you know? So for example, uh, when people say, you know, well, people who are interested in speaking are also interested in writing a book or coaching or consulting or doing a podcast or doing any number of things, things that I have some experience with and we could teach those things, but we just say like, no, no, no, like we're steakhouse. We do this. And so if you want tacos, let me recommend the taco place down the street that has phenomenal tacos, go check that if you need pizza, that's not us, but if you want steak, if you want this specific thing, that's what we do.

30:34 - Um, so like picking a lane was important. The other thing I would say was, again, I think the, the intuition thing, you know, I think there are times where you do something in business and it's like, Hey, it kind of works kind of didn't work. Um, and you still have the sense of like, there's still something there though. Like we could, we could make this work. And, uh, and I felt like that of just like, we could make it work, but I wasn't super passionate about it or fired up or just like, yeah, yeah, we're alright. We're good. We're onto something. But whenever I did the, uh, the first version of the, our speaking course, we're speaking course called book and paid to speak. And the first launch that I was just like, okay, this. And in fact, the initial launch of that probably now that I think about probably did worse than the career course, but I just felt like, no, no, no, we're, we've got something here. We've got we're onto something here. So, um, so I think part of it was kind of, you know, thinking about the market, thinking about, um, what I was excited about and also just kind of the intuition of like, are we, are we onto something? Is there something here? Can we, can we dig into this or do we need to pivot?

31:37 - Yeah. And probably you're seeing like, there's other angles to attack this versus the other one. You're kind of like, eh, I don't know, like how do I, how do I wrap stuff around this thing? You know what I mean? Like the other thing was like you said, and I think it's important to kind of point that out is like, there's certain steps to arrive to the destination. The other one's kinda like, eh, you could go over there. You can, you know, it's like, you're this way here. You're like, no, no, if you want to do it, I've done it. These are the steps that I would do over again. Here they are. And you just lay it out for them. One other quick question. How did you sell that, that your first training, I'm just curious, like, how did you, cause I mean, back then, I mean Facebook ads, but like, was it like it is now? Like how did you get traffic?

32:16 - Yeah. So a couple of things. One is, uh, at the time I was, I was having more and more people that were just emailing me and just reaching out, saying said, Hey, I want to be a speaker, but senior website. And I've heard your stuff. I was like, I didn't, um, I was doing the podcast, but it wasn't specifically for speakers or anything. And, uh, so I had a bunch of people who are emailing me. So some of it was keeping track of, of that. And following up with those people, Hey, if I did some type of training, would that be something you'd be interested in? Uh, so that was something which again is kind of a, a good validation of paying attention to what people are already asking you questions about. Uh, and so I was getting a lot of questions, uh, along those lines.

32:50 - So it was a big part of it initially. Um, and then, uh, once we were like, okay, we're onto something, let's do more of this than we, we definitely did a lot of Facebook ads. And I didn't, I didn't know anything about Facebook ads. I worked with, uh, several different contractors over the course of the first couple of years, uh, and largely doing a mix of live and automated webinars. Uh, and so one thing that I think worked well for us was I was kind of looking around at what were other people doing? Like how does, how does that business model apply to me? Cause I knew I didn't want to do like any one on one coaching. I wasn't really excited about that and okay. I see some people doing a course, how are they selling it? Okay. I see that they do webinars.

33:27 - Some of them do these launches. Okay. What would that look like for us and just like paying attention to what's working and how, how do you model that it's still to this day? Uh, it's something I do. So I'll give you a quick example of like today, what that looks like. Um, we have a decent sized team, but there's a role we were considering hiring for. And so one of the things I did yesterday was there's a couple other, um, uh, uh, companies that I keep an eye on that, uh, they have like their, their, um, necessarily the org chart, but like their staff on their website. And so it's going to pull it up some of them and saying like, okay, what does this role look like for some of these other companies? You know, just as an example, as a gauge, okay, here's a company that has kind of a similar model in a different industry.

34:06 - Here's what this person does for them. Kind of what the, okay. I could see how that would work for us. I'm just, I'm looking for examples. Like again, if, if you're thinking about driving a car at night, well, someone's made a map of the road, you know? Um, and so like, let's, let's look ahead. I may not take the exact same map, but uh, at least give me some ideas here of what's up ahead. And so that's, that's something even to this day, like I try to look at, and again, I think he's a great question for any entrepreneur is like, who's doing something similar to what you want to do. And there's like a step or two ahead of you, not light years ahead of you, but a step or two ahead of you that you can, you can learn from and model. Yeah.

34:39 - I love that. You gotta be able to model. Um, alright. I know we're going to be wrapping up here. You've got a hard stop here coming up, but I did want to dig into this really quick.

34:48 - Okay. Yeah.

34:49 - Who are teaching people how to get speaking gigs at conferences? Most of the time conferences aren't really happening right now, at least in my world. I don't know about you grant, but I actually had an event scheduled for, well, at the time that we're aware that we're recording, this is like the week of, and that's been postponed until 2021. Hopefully we're able to do it. Then what happens? Okay. You, this happens to your business, walk me through your mentor.

35:16 - So like state and kind of like then

35:21 - Did you pivot and how did you get to where you are now to where you're actually doing

35:24 - Really, really well. Yeah. So again, I think some of this goes back to you're driving the car at night. And so when this

35:30 - Happens, you're just kind of watching it unfold. And, uh, I remember it for the first few weeks, it was kind of scary, you know, cause

35:35 - Exactly like you described of going, it's obviously affecting the world. Um, but when events are canceling left and right, and, and speakers aren't able to speak and people are losing their jobs, it's just affecting the overall economy. You're just like, well, crap. Well now what you know? And so, um, it was kind of one of those like slow motion car crash that you just, you can't stop, you can't do anything about that's completely outside of your control. Uh, and so when everything kind of happened in mid-March, um, I'm personally not doing a ton of speaking gigs. I had a couple of them in the spring that were postponed, but I was also like reaching out to a ton of other speakers, like just kinda trying to keep a pulse on what's happening. How are people pivoting? What, you know, what should speakers be doing right now?

36:17 - Um, and, uh, one of the things that we were seeing was more and more virtual opportunities that were happening and a pre COVID there were, and are still a lot of virtual opportunities. It just was not one of the things that was, I guess, not that common. It was one of those things that like a lot of speakers, a lot of events didn't take super seriously. And now all of a sudden it was like, it's the only option. And so we really leaned in heavily to that. We started teaching. Here's how you find a book, you know, virtual gigs, here's how you deliver virtual gigs. Here's the technology that you need, the setup that you need, you know, some, some of those things that you need to be thinking about. So we made a quick pivot to that in may, um, and, and put together a new program on that teaching that, that did really, really well in may.

37:00 - Um, and then, uh, some may ended up being a record month for us. Uh, June was still strong and then July ended up being a record month for us as well. Um, and since then it's been, we've had really, really, really strong months. And so, uh, I admittedly at their part, there are times where I'm just like, what in the world? Like, I would've thought things would be way, way worse. I'm still like, again, I would go back to what we talked about earlier that I don't know that you ever feel, feel like man, we we've got it. We're good. We're set. Like, you know, like who knows how this is going to happen, how this is going to continue to play out how long this is going to go, the longterm implicate implications on things. Um, but I remember even, uh, there's a, maybe a month ago or so I was doing a, um, like a group Q and a call with some of our students and some students who just joined one of our programs within the past few weeks.

37:48 - I remember we're kinda wrapping up the call and I'm just straight up asking them, like they'd already joined. Um, they're already in. And I was like, man, it seems like a horrible time to join something like this. Why are you all here? Um, and just try, not like half joking, half serious, several of them said like, you know, either, um, I've always wanted to be a speaker and now's as good a time as any, um, are I lost my job or I was downsize or I might lose my job and I have more free time. I want to invest in myself now. Um, and just those type of answers. Uh, and so one of the things that we have seen is there are a lot of speakers who have certainly been dramatically affected, but we're also seeing a lot of speakers who have pivoted while who are still doing really, really well.

38:26 - In fact, several of our students who are doing more virtual stuff are doing more coaching and consulting are just killing it. I was texting with a speaker friend actually this morning. I said, Hey, how are events looking for you? What's the, what's the rest of the year look like? And he said, I got a lot of virtual gigs. It's not as much fun as the impersonal stuff, but it's working is that I'm already getting, actually getting a lot of stuff in person booked for next year. So like, it's, it sucks, you know, uh, this weird world that we're in. But again, as part that's part of business, it's not always going to be smooth and not always, it's not always going to go the way that you plan. And so part of a part of being an entrepreneur is again, adjusting and pivoting as you go. Yeah, no, those are, those are great points. And I'm glad that we brought it back full circle

39:08 - Because I mean, you've been, you've been down that road, right. Pivots along the way. And then this one here, when I seen this happen, the pandemic I thought of you because I'm like these speakers, these events, all this stuff they've got, well, I actually had John Borden on the podcast, interviewed him. And he's like for a minute there, man, like our legs were like chopped off from underneath us. And I got a team and I got people to feed and that, that was our, that was a lot of our business and it's just gone. Right. And so you had to kind of, kind of gather yourself and figure out the next move and that's what they've done. And I'm like, I kind of joked with them. I'm like, yeah, you're the positive guy

39:45 - You have to do. He goes, listen,

39:47 - I might be known as the positive guy, but I'm not always positive. Let me just set the record straight. And I'm like, well, yeah. But, um, anyway, alright. So grant, let people know a little bit more about how they can learn more about you and if they ever did want to get into speaking or even just get their message out there or just follow you on that.

40:03 - And where would they, where would they go to do that? Yeah, everything that we do for speakers is over@thespeakerlab.com, the speaker lab.com. We have a new book, um, called the successful speaker five steps for booking gigs, getting paid, building your platform. So go check that out on Amazon or wherever books are sold. And then, um, I have a podcast called the speaker lab podcast. So we have over 300 podcast episodes there. If you're listening to this podcast, probably listen to other podcasts. So definitely check that one out as well to speak about podcasts. But yeah, if there's anything I can do to help serve support, uh, those, those that are interested in speaking or just entrepreneurship in any way. Um, you know, I think that a big, um, big reason I've had any level of, of mediocre success is because of people like you, Scott, you know, you and I connected through, like we mentioned, Jamie and you and I have compared notes along the way. Uh, and there are days where we're just like, Hey, you and I are just figuring it out as well. Um, but surrounding yourself with other people who are on the journey with you has been incredibly, incredibly valuable. So, uh, incredibly grateful for your, your friendships gotten, I appreciate you letting me be here. Yeah.

41:01 - Maybe next time. We'll, we'll have to get you back on and we'll just have to trade notes on the Airbnb stuff that we're working on.

41:07 - We're both trying to figuring it out as we go.

41:10 - That's it right grant. Well, Hey, have an awesome day, man. Stay safe and we'll be in touch and uh, yeah, we'll uh, we'll definitely get you back on here in the future. Get an update, see how things are going.

41:19 - Well, thanks man. I appreciate you. Thanks Scott.

41:22 - Alright, so there you have it. I wasn't kidding what a great guy and just, I'm so lucky to have people like him in my life and now being able to bring people like that into the podcast to introduce them to you. I mean, it just comes full circle. It's just amazing that I'm able to do that. And I'm so glad that I am. So hopefully you got a ton from that. And even if you just like to listen to these stories to say, you know what, that guy sounds a lot like me or that girl sounds a lot like me, whatever. Sometimes we need that. Sometimes we need to know that, you know what, that person sounds like. They have a similar story than me, or I remember going through something similar to that. Whenever we can relate to someone's story, it makes us a believer in ourselves.

42:07 - And I really think after you listened to an interview like that, how can you not look at where you've been and where you're going a little bit differently. And I love the analogy that grant use as far as your headlights can only see so far, but we want to see like so far down the line, but we really only need to see just enough to stay on the road. Right? We want to look a little bit ahead. We want to plan out our map, but we know that sometimes you're going to get a flat tire, right? Sometimes the car is going to break down, right. Or sometimes you might just say, you know what? I feel like going in a different direction and you can write, but I just love that analogy because we always think we got to see so far ahead. In reality, we just got to see far enough to where we're going next.

42:50 - All right. So guys, that's gonna wrap up this episode, go check out grant. He's a great guy. If you're ever thinking about getting into speaking or anything like that, definitely he's the guy. He's the guy that I would go to. And he's actually someone that I am going to, because when I do want to do more, more speaking gigs or when we can eventually do speaking gigs, but, or virtual speaking gigs, he's the guy that I always go to and ask for advice. So I would definitely, definitely, uh, just check them out. He's just a great guy and you're going to learn a ton just even if you pay attention to his marketing, guy's got a good marketing sense too. All right guys. So that's it. That's going to wrap it up as always remember, I'm here for you. I believe in you and I am rooting for you, but you have to, you have to come on. Say it with me, say it loud, say it. Proud. Take action. Have an awesome, amazing day. And I'll see you right back here on the next episode. Now let's rock your brain.

Scott Voelker

Over the years I’ve helped thousands of people TAKE ACTION to UNLOCK their true potential on building their ultimate freedom business, by developing the skills to make them resilient, confident and FUTURE PROOF. I’ve clocked my 10,000 hours over the years working in the trenches myself and helping others build and grow their brands. I know the power in TAKING ACTION better than anyone and I’ve seen people lives changed as a result of it...including my OWN!