Ryan Foland speaks with Ryan Avery. Ryan Avery went from never having spoke on stage to winning the Toastmasters World Championships, launching his career as a public speaker. However, it took 3-4 years before he hit the professional level. Now he is booked for 75 international keynotes a year.
Sprinkled with acronyms and new words, this entertainingly insightful interview shares ideas on how to transition from public to professional speaker, how to connect with your audience, and some key strategies for growing your speaking business.
Listen to this podcast to find out:
- The main key to speaking: which is to speak how you like to be taught.
- How finding your key, niche topic can set you apart from other speakers and help you excel in your career.
- How to find success in your business by curating content, curating new content, curating stories, curating things.
- Why it is essential to hit your audience with something valuable to them in the first 60 seconds if you want immediate engagement.
- What the difference is between Toastmasters and the NSA, and how to use both to hone your speaking skills and build your business.
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Ryan Avery: Hi, my name is Ryan Avery and I'm here talking to Ryan to show you how to go from “A speaker” to “The speaker” in your industry.
Ryan Foland: Ahoy everybody. We're back with another episode, and this time my guest, I have to say personally I feel like he has one of the coolest names ever, if not the coolest name, especially the first name.
Welcome Ryan Avery to the show. Do not be deceived, he is known as “The Keynote Speaker.” Welcome to the show fellow Little King, Ryan Avery, how are you?
Ryan Avery: Good, how are you? I'm glad you know the meaning of our name.
Ryan Foland: Yeah. I always like to start off the show getting to know you a little bit more. What is happening in your kingdom, per se?
But think about a story that if you could pull it off of the shelf...let's say that you were at a farmer's market and every single piece of fruit and vegetable represents some type of story from your past — which story, fruit, or vegetable are you going to pick up and put in our bag today so that we can get to know you through something that actually happened to you?
Ryan Avery: It's a good analogy. Back in 2012, my best friend, he quits his job to pursue his dream to be a filmmaker.
He quits his good-paying job, he invests all of his life savings into this film. A couple of months later he’s lost all of the money, he doesn't know where the film is going and he is in a really bad part in his career and his life. I take him out to lunch and he is like,
"Ryan, don't listen to them, don't follow your dreams it's crazy, it's the hardest thing ever".
Ryan Foland: So sad.
Ryan Avery: He is like, "What's the hardest thing you've ever had to do, Ryan?"
And I could not give my best friend an answer.
At that time in my life, I had done pretty normal things.
I am pretty average, I skated through high school and college, nothing really that stood out that made it so I could answer that question. It made me feel like a crappy person.
That weekend I spent watching a bunch of YouTube videos because I was in this like YouTube vortex, and feeling bad about myself that I had never done anything hard.
There is this video of this person going for what's called the World Championship of Public Speaking. I watched the video.
I had never professionally spoken before, but I watched the video and I think to myself, "All right," I remember someone saying that public speaking is the hardest thing to do.
I remember people saying more people were afraid of public speaking than anything else, so I said,
"Fine, I'll win that, I'll enter that contest, I'll do everything I can to win that contest."
The short story is 8 months later I win. There are 30K people from 116 countries that compete for the contest every year.
There are 8 months of competition, 6 rounds, you have to give 2 speeches in each round.
And with the help of my wife, my mentors, my friends, Toastmasters, I won the World Championship back in 2012.
That really changed my life, and in a variety of ways.
Ryan Foland: Wow, do you hear this? [applause] Hopefully you're picking that up, that's applause, congratulations.
I've competed a couple of times in the Toastmasters, I seem to win the humorous and the evaluation and all that, but the inspiration — I didn't get to the finals. I have a couple of friends that did.
That's a great origination story that you basically on a — could we call it a guilt trip there?
The fact that it was kind of a dare, but it's like you guilted yourself into the dare, right?
Ryan Avery: Yeah, 100 percent, and even cooler is 2 weeks later he launched his film and he went on tour and it was a very successful film.
So we kind of had this time together where we both could celebrate. I'm very thankful for that conversation, I'm very thankful for the wake up of like,
"Oh wow, all right, I'm pretty average I've done something normal my whole life, I want to be the best at something".
It was the year of the Olympics, 2012, so I'm very inspired by athletes like Gabby Douglas and Michael Phelps. And 2012 was a good year to launch a lot of growth for me.
Ryan Foland: Are you still in the Toastmasters arena? Are you still involved?
Ryan Avery: I'm not. They have been a phenomenal organization and I'm very thankful for what the people have done for me within Toastmasters.
My schedule doesn't allow it.
I've started 8 different clubs so I give back in the sense of starting a club or helping people who are competing for the championship.
I don't have any ties to Toastmasters anymore because of my schedule and my business.
Ryan Foland: Well fair enough.
You have created your own problem of lack of time to support an organization that helped you to create the lack of time that you have now.
So in a weird way, they should be a very proud parent of the system that they have.
I love Toastmasters, I also have a challenge with the scheduling, but really point back to that as just a pivotal learning platform and still have great friends from it at the end of the day.
If you were to sum up Toastmasters for people who don't know what it is, but you can't describe it in the normal terms, what would it be?
So here we go, this is just like a random lightning round. If Toastmasters was a cartoon character, what cartoon character would it be?
Ryan Avery: I would say, I know this sounds crazy but I would say Winnie-the-Pooh.
Because in my opinion, he is very supportive, you can talk to Winnie, he's going through very similar things you are, you're able to communicate, it's very simple, everybody likes it.
Ryan Foland: Yeah, I like it. That's great.
Okay, so now the next one is if Toastmasters was a hotel chain, what type of hotel chain would they be?
Ryan Avery: Maybe Hilton and the reason why is they're global and they are on this cusp of — they have been around for a while, but now they have a lot more competition and so they have to update themselves in a way that gets people to come and see the benefits of what the hotel chain has to offer.
Ryan Foland: So, number 3: If Toastmasters was a vehicle what type of vehicle would it be?
Ryan Avery: It would be, I would say it would be a boat.
The reason why is it can be a little rocky, it can be a little scary to get on it, but it's still solid ground, it allows you to travel all over the world and meet different people.
It's a universal transportation model that you can use on lakes, rivers, oceans, and ponds, so I would say a boat.
Ryan Foland: Brilliant. Toastmasters, the boat of public speaking.
Toastmasters, the Hilton of your speaking practice.
Toastmasters, the Winnie-the-Pooh of your professional public speaking path.
Ryan Avery: I don't think I've said Winnie-the-Pooh in like 20 years.
Ryan Foland: Kind of rolls off the tongue.
I will admit I do use the Winnie-the-Pooh gif if I really want to communicate thinking. There's this one where he is just tapping his head thinking, so I interface with Mr. Pooh every once in a while.
I don't want to get too distracted by Toastmasters, but I really like the fact that you saw it, you just dove into it, you found success as a thread of it and I still think it's challenging sometimes for people to really understand what it is.
Now they know what it is in reference to a cartoon character, a hotel, and vehicle, so maybe that will inspire some people.
But it sounds like this situation really changed the whole trajectory of what you're doing off of this guilt-dare. Were you speaking before in any capacity?
Ryan Avery: Never.
Ryan Foland: Okay. So how has that been for you, as far as the transition, like just a total flip of the pancake, right?
Ryan Avery: Yeah, absolutely.
So the next day, after I won, I woke up to 269 emails asking me to speak and coach people.
And my life really changed overnight.
However, I didn't know the business side of speaking, so all those invitations, I would say most of them, they were asking me for free or they would pay my travel or it would be another Toastmasters district.
It was something that was really cool, like, "Hey, let's go to the Bahamas we'll pay for you and your wife to come to the Bahamas, if you speak for free."
I remember the first keynote that I got, I got paid $200 and I was like, "I am the wealthiest person in the world!"
Because I used to work at Special Olympics, I was the Director of Marketing and Communications in the Pacific Northwest so I worked nonprofit, $200 for me back then was a lot of money.
I would work Monday through Friday, I would go and fly out on Friday night, keynote on Saturday, come back on Sunday, and I was getting super, super burnt-out because I was doing that for months.
Chelsea is my wife, I told Chelsea, I said,
"Hey, I really think I could do this, I have been talking to a few people that say speaking is a business, you can really do this, you have to learn a lot of different things around it.
But in order to do it I have to quit my job because I need the time and energy to do it, I don't have it right now with Special Olympics."
And Special Olympics was phenomenal, I'm so grateful for them. I am a huge, huge advocate for Special Olympics.
So, she says, "Yeah, let's do it."
We both quit our jobs, we sell everything that we have, we move to Texas to live with my parents which is a really—
Ryan Foland: Wait, wait, wait, wait— so she caught the bug too? Was this something in her swing zone or did she—
Ryan Avery: Chelsea coached me throughout the process, she helped me win, and she coached me, and held me accountable and did all those things.
And so we decided yeah, to sell everything that we had, move back with my parents in Texas.
They gave us a little corner of their house, and about 6 months later we had a full calendar.
Then I would say it took about 4 years to really get professional.
The reason why is the World Championship. Although it helped me, it actually hurt me a lot too because it's a very theatrical speech and all I had was that video, and people knew that video.
And when clients or when corporations saw it that's what they saw me as, and so they were like, "Oh, we don't want that type of speaker."
So I had to learn a lot about speaking, and I had to learn a lot about professional speaking.
I learned a lot about professional selling, and what it is that we really do as keynote speakers.
And then yeah, so we've been doing it for 7 years. I would say for the past 3-4 years it's been my real, full-time profession, I do 75 events per year, I cap it at 75.
Last year was crazy, it was 26 countries, 75 keynotes. This year will be very similar.
Yeah, so it took me a little bit of time, about 4 years of solid, hard, nonstop work to get there.
Ryan Foland: So the question is when is your friend going to make a documentary about your journey? That's a real question.
Ryan Avery: You know what, I am going to call him man and ask him that, that's a good question.
Ryan Foland: Tell him, be like, "Hey, this is," — I can see the title like "Guiltying Your Way to Personal Success Through..."— you said something about like “dramatically watching YouTube” or something. Maybe that's a subtitle.
Ryan Avery: I like it, I am definitely going to text him after this interview.
Ryan Foland: I am curious because you have this unique perspective where you literally went from no public speaking experience to taking on one of the most challenging feats, to then get to the top of the mountain to put your flag down, having a wife who's integrated into this process, changing your whole lifestyle, this being now what you are, where you are now.
If you could go back on what you're doing now, what are some of the pieces of advice that have helped you the most?
Really what caught my ear is from doing a dramatic Toastmasters-esque type talk, which can be its own bubble, it's entertainment, it's very strategic, but it might not necessarily translate to a 45-minute keynote at a corporate office.
What are some of the things that you've learned, that you do, that you would share with people to get to that professional level, from a speaking, tactical standpoint?
Ryan Avery: Yes, so I have this really bad speech, and it goes horrible!
And I'm talking to one of my friends, and he tells me, "Ryan, no one rides a roller coaster to get to the end, enjoy the ride."
And that has been advice that has stuck with me since the early stages of this career of mine.
And any time I have made a mistake, or anytime something happens to me, I always think,
"I signed up for this, I am doing this as me, I got into the seat, I got into the rollercoaster.
So instead of being upset with the twists and turns and the ups and downs, I am going to enjoy this ride, and I'm very thankful and I'm very privileged to be able to be on this ride."
That has changed my mentality a lot.
And the other thing that we say in our business is there's a saying that is "Fake it until you make it."
And I hate that saying. The saying, in my opinion should be, "Do it until you make it."
I have faked nothing to be here and neither have you.
What happens is when young people, or when people in general hear that saying, you discredit yourself of all the work that you've done.
So instead of faking it till you make it, you do it until you make it.
And part of doing it is learning, is making mistakes, is burning bridges, is not knowing how to do it and going out and figuring out how you have to learn it, what works best for you versus someone else.
As you know, one of the hardest parts of this industry is there are a million ways of doing it.
You can ask 10 different keynote speakers how they do something and they're all going to be different points and strategies and different advice.
So having to figure that out is really, really important.
Doing it until you make it is important.
And then we do what's called our 4M's, so you need to know your 4M's as a keynote speaker.
You need to know your message, your method, your market, and your marketing.
So these are the 4 things that we focus on:
What's your message? People need to know what you stand for, what you talk about.
What's the method that you deliver? Are you doing keynotes, are you doing trainings, are you doing podcasts, are you doing books, are you an author, like what's the way that you're getting that message out there?
Who is your market? Who are the people that you are selling that to?
And then the marketing. Where are the people? Where is your market? Where are they hanging out?
What are you doing to make sure that your message is getting out through that marketing?
Those are some big things that helped me throughout the process. There's a ton of other things, but I would say those 4 things are key.
Ryan Foland: All right, so join me, we're going to get in line for a roller coaster ride.
What is your favorite roller coaster that you either can think of or that you want to go on?
Ryan Avery: To this day, well I competed in Orlando, my competition was in the United States that year.
And so after I won I celebrated in Universal Studios, and I went on the Harry Potter ride, and it was the Dragon ride and to this day, that's still my favorite roller coaster.
Ryan Foland: How ironic that it's the dragon ride when all this happened in the year of the Dragon.
Ryan Avery: I was the 8th speaker during the 88th year of the contest out of 88 contestants and 88 districts on 8/18 at 8 am.
Ryan Foland: Wow, okay, yeah. And the 8 is also the infinity sign, right?
You take one and then you throw it to this — like, yeah, and then you can make a bracelet and a necklace out of it, maybe get a tattoo.
A lot of stuff is coming from this and this is all going to be documented in the movie, so let me know when you need me to reenact this moment as part of the documentary.
Okay, so we're in line for the Harry Potter Dragon ride and we're going to use just sort of the loose analogy of waiting for the actual ride, being on the ride and then after the ride, as a loose way to tease out some of these particular tips from a speaking perspective.
So we're in line, you are getting ready to go on this ride and that is the stage. What are some of the things you do to prepare yourself while you're in line before you get up and into the ride, up on stage?
Ryan Avery: We always talk out loud as if the event has already happened.
So right before I go and talk, Chelsea says, "How did it go today?"
And so from my keynote on Saturday, I'll say,
"Man, Saturday was so much fun, we had a blast. They asked me really good questions, they laughed in my intro, they took so many notes, they challenged me on a few things.
Something went wrong with my AV but I was able to handle it by using one of the strategies that I have. They came up to me afterward, I added even more value after I talked.
I had a lot of fun, they had a lot of fun, I added value and I lived my core values, it was an unbelievable time."
Ryan Foland: So you say this before the talk even happens?
Ryan Avery: Absolutely, yeah.
Ryan Foland: And it's prompted by a question, you're not just there like talking to yourself in the mirror, but it feels a bit more natural because your wife is like, "Hey, how did it go?"
Even though you're about to go up on stage?
Ryan Avery: Exactly, yeah.
Ryan Foland: Now, when you talk about an AV going wrong as that would happen, it gets up there, do you feel kind of weird and creepy that you predicted the future?
Ryan Avery: No, because I would say everything on stage has happened to me, from falling off the stage because I move around a lot, from cell phones going off.
I'm keynoting in London a couple of months ago, and the fire alarm went off so we all had to exit, literally in the middle of my keynote.
Well, everything has happened and so I always incorporate some type of thing in there because it helps me. I have strategies in place for when something goes wrong or diverts from something.
One of the things I teach is "Don't get ready, stay ready".
And so that helps me stay in that moment, to stay ready, to say,
"When it does come or if it does come, I'm ready, I'm prepared for it to happen."
Ryan Foland: Gotcha. Plan B, C, D, all the way to the E.
Ryan Avery: All the way, yes.
Ryan Foland: Okay, so that's cool, a very interesting sort of prep talk to kind of talk yourself into it, but instead of saying, "I'm going to crush it," you're like, "I did crush it."
And then that's giving you a little juice.
So you get on and you strap into this Harry Potter, I'm not sure whether it's the strap down or all these mechanisms to lock you in, how do you lock in the first minute of your talk?
That's always interesting to me.
Ryan Avery: Add value. So within the first 60 seconds, you add value. Value is something they can use, it doesn't mean that they will, all that matters now is you are valuable to them.
So now, subliminally, they get to hear you for another hour knowing that you're going to add more valuable content.
So I don't bother with the "Thank you for having me," or, "Hi, my name is Ryan."
No, I go right into a quick little, either a story or a quick something that then significantly adds value that gets everyone to say, "Wow, I'm going to remember that," and either pull out their notebook or their phone.
Subliminally, within that 60 seconds they have something from me that they can use to better their life.
Ryan Foland: Okay. Do you have an example?
You said quick story or anecdote, but for somebody who's actually trying to really lock in that first 30 seconds, is it one of your main points, is there humor involved or is it just, you're just saying what is maybe the most valuable thing that I have and you just put it upfront?
How do you figure that out?
Ryan Avery: Well, I believe that your message should be consistent, so you shouldn't have a bunch of messages, you should have one and then all of the points of the who, what, when, where, how and why should attach to that.
But at the beginning, it can be anything, it can be a quote, it can be a result of research, like a nugget that you found, it could be a book.
The last keynote that I gave, I started out by sharing a story about this author that I met, and it's the best book I've ever read on public speaking.
And I shared a book title and I shared the book, and then I explained a little bit of why it's so powerful.
But instantly everyone goes, "Oh, that's the best book on public speaking, cool," and they write that book title down and instantly they have value from me.
Ryan Foland: Gotcha. I've heard and I also agree that people really remember the beginning and the end...not so much the middle.
If you think about it from the rollercoaster ride like the first 15 seconds into the cart or car you literally, the most important thing you do is the value, is strap up and lockdown, and everybody makes sure that like, "Okay, you're not going to fall out of this thing, let's make sure that you are secure," so I like that.
Now you hear the tick, tick, tick, tick, tick as you keep going for the top.
After your intro, do you follow a certain type of structure?
You kind of tease at it with the one message who, what, when, where, why, how?
Just from a general sense, do you have a certain format that you follow as your tick, tick, tick, and about to take off?
Ryan Avery: So mine is like the Greased Lightning in Houston, it goes right away, so there's no tick, tick, tick, it's not one that builds up, it's one that shoots you off.
Instantly in the first 60 seconds, you're adding value.
And then one of the lessons I learned speaking is you should speak how you like to be taught.
So I don't teach these like broad messages. I share a story that drives home value, that teaches a strategy, and then I move on. So that's how I like to learn.
I like to hear an anecdote and then I like to hear a strategy and then I like to move on.
I don't like to be for one hour talking about one thing that then drags on and I look down at my notes and I have one or two things written down.
I am the type who likes to write it down and I have highlighters and I like to take notes.
For me, it's a lot of value, it's a lot of take home, it's a lot of stories that then translate into, "Here's a strategy, see how I used it in this story beforehand?"
Things like that.
Ryan Foland: Gotcha. Okay, so that's definitely, I would say, hands up with a pen and paper flying all over the place, trying to like as the excitement goes with the ups and downs you're like, it sounds very rapid fire, and very just like, "Hey! Wait! What!” left, boom, right ”—aaah!"
Got it. So now, we land afterward, you're like okay, you have that final sort of closing moment but you're still on stage.
Do you close any particular way or is there anything that really works for you?
Ryan Avery: Yes. So you're right, it's called primacy and relevancy.
So people remember what they see first and feel last.
I always end on what the client wants them to walk away with, so I ask, "What's the one thing that you need to make this event successful?"
And then I'll end that that ties into that feeling or that knowing, so I call it KFD.
So what's the one thing you want your audience to know, feel or do? I'll end with the KFD that ties into what my client is wanting.
Ryan Foland: Brilliant.
And then that will make them feel that much better about paying you to be there, at the end of the day.
All right, so cool, it's time for a Diet Coke, and some popcorn, or a hot dog, or hamburger, now?
What do you do after the fact? You've left the stage, do you have a whole team involved in a certain specific after the fact?
What happens after the ride for you?
Ryan Avery: I stick around.
I meet people beforehand and I meet people afterwards.
I'm not the person who stays in the green room or like walks behind the curtain and then comes out on stage.
I'm very hands-on whether it's I'm talking to 200 people or 2K people, I am there.
Part of my job is to have fun.
It's fun for me to meet people. It's really fun to know that people are listening to my research and listening to my strategies and taking it home.
I like to hear from people what they like and what they're going to implement.
I stick around. I usually walk offstage, typically it will be off stage, sometimes there are times when some clients want some private sessions with a few people.
But typically, one of the questions I ask in my pre-questionnaire is "Where would you like me after I'm done talking?"
I go off stage to the left or to the right and hang out while they say a few closing remarks and then stick around to talk to audience members.
Ryan Foland: Interesting.
One very particular question within this: Do you have a certain question that you like to ask an audience member?
And it's very, very particular, sort of the choice of words, and I've asked this to a number of people.
I typically say, "What was the most memorable moment from the talk?"
Or maybe it would be, "What's your biggest takeaway from the talk?"
Is there any certain phrase that you use as a primer, that really helps you get that instant feedback that you might not get otherwise?
Ryan Avery: Yes, so I call them "WOW strategies" W.O.W., and they stand for: what are you going to Walk Out With.
So what wowed you today? What made you say, "Wow, Ryan, I like that, I'm going to implement that, that wowed me."
I like to know what their WOW strategies are.
And then it's also a good reminder for them of, "Okay, you said it out loud, now implement it."
Ryan Foland: Great, that was a great ride and nice to get some very particular snippets on how you approach the journey on this ride.
I want to transition into the concept of the speaking business.
Now, it might be a bit particular for you because you are literally husband-and-wife journey traveling around the world, which is awesome, but not everybody has that type of teamwork and support.
Are there things that you've learned as a process of working as a team that other people could implement even if they're solo or maybe their spouse is not in that same industry?
Things that maybe you found going from 263 emails that were not really revenue-generating to now booking out 75 talks a year, consistently?
Maybe an inside look at that, or some tips that you'd be comfortable sharing. That would be awesome.
Ryan Avery: Yeah, there are several. We hired a sales coach to help us sell. We've hired a business coach to help us run our business. Making sure that you clearly define what your roles are.
At the beginning, a lot of it was me and Chelsea, and 100% of it was us.
And then even most of it was me in a sense of speaking, and all the things that I was doing.
It took me a while to get an assistant.
Then with my first assistant, it was part-time and she was doing a few things here and there.
And then it grew.
One of the things that I see some speakers do when they start out is feel like they need a big team, or they automatically need an assistant right out of the gate, and for me, in my experience that wasn't it.
You can do a lot of it yourself. I would say clearly define your roles, hire a sales coach or attend sales training or go to the NSA, The National Speakers’ Association.
Do those things.
I use a formula called, "look at what you ATE" so A.T.E., and there are 4 things that you need to do: you need to curate, you need to create, you need to communicate, and you need to collaborate.
And those are the 4 things that you need to do in order for you to be successful within your business.
You need to constantly be curating content, curating new content, curating stories, curating things.
You need to create things, you need to write books or do the podcasts, or create the infographics.
And then you need to communicate it, you need to share with people, you need some channel to get that out there.
And then you need to collaborate, you need to work with people who can help you get better, or work with people who can advance your career, or work with people who can get you in front of the right people.
What I find is when I look at new speakers, a lot of them are spending time and they curate, they're learning and they are creating new content, they're going to conferences, but very few are creating or collaborating or making sure that they're communicating it out there.
So having a healthy balance of all 4 of those is a very important aspect of my business.
Ryan Foland: For those that have an appetite, I believe that looking at what they have aten is a nice strategy.
And I'm taking your little, your acronym central over here, you need to come up with an acronym book to some extent at this point.
Ryan Avery: I know. I, again teach how I like to be taught. So I love acronyms, I love when you can simplify things.
So most of my strategy is 4, 3, 2, 1, the 25 funnel, GSA, 3C's, 3F's. They're all related to acronyms because that's how I remember them.
Ryan Foland: I like that. Now, from those individuals who are using Toastmasters as a starting point to craft their skills and then they get out there and want to get taken a bit more seriously, saying they want to get paid for it, I've personally seen a lot of challenges in that gap to the first paid gig.
Is there any specific advice that you would give to people when it comes to making that transition from free to non-free? I want to know the acronym for that one.
Ryan Avery: Yeah, I do have an acronym, it's called APS, but before I share APS, Toastmasters is really good for you to practice speaking.
NSA is really good for you to learn the business of speaking, NSA is The National Speakers Association.
So whether you join an academy or whether you go to one of their events or you learn more about the business side, that is what I would recommend.
Toastmasters are great for practicing in certain situations, NSA is the business side of things.
That first jump you want to know, again, the 4M's work really well, and also, how I built all my keynotes, how I wrote all of my books is A.P.S., so A.P.S., and it has to be a very unique A.P.S.
A.P.S. stands for Audience-Problem-Solution.
Who is your unique audience?
What is their unique problem?
And what is your unique solution to solving that problem?
So you can't say things like, "I want to work with women," — like way too broad.
What is a very specific audience there?
For example, my latest book, the APS for that one was audience, it was “baby boomer executives who hire millennial employees.” That's a very specific audience.
Their problem is they don't know how to retain top talent, they're hiring people, they're spending a lot of money on hiring, but then they'll go and they'll leave about a month later, 6 months later, and it's costing the businesses a lot of money.
I have a unique solution called the 4R's— how to recruit, retain, recognize, and reconsider what top talent really looks like in today's day and age.
So now I know whom to target, I know the language I need to use, and then I know how to sell it to them where they add value. Afterward they go,
"Wow that was really good. The next Association meeting I'm in, anyone who has the same problem, I'm going to refer Ryan Avery to them."
Ryan Foland: Well I knew we'd get along from the name alone, but now that you have the A.P.S., I have something that sounds quite similar, it's called the 3-1-3 and something I speak about around the world.
It is focused on the problem, solution, and market, which is the most simplistic but most challenging for some people to narrow down.
I use it in a way that helps people create their messaging and can be used as a filter like this, and the 3-1-3 is that it eventually ends up in 3 sentences, 1 sentence, and 3 words.
So that A.P.S. is speaking my language there, my friend.
Do you find that people are resistant or hesitant or challenged in the process of really narrowing down that audience? Really narrowing down that problem? And really narrowing down that solution?
Ryan Avery: Absolutely.
They have this—and I did at the beginning too—this weird notion of like, "Well I want to speak to so many different types of people, I don't want to narrow myself to that market."
But every single business and person that you can pinpoint has one very specific audience to solve a problem and create a solution for.
I mean, you can look at any type of speaker or any type of business, any type of musician that's how they grow, it’s that specific one.
What I recommend is listing all the audiences, listing all the problems, listing all your solutions, listing them all—and then picking one.
You can't pick the wrong one. Later you can do the others, but don't try to do them all at once.
That would be like trying to bake brownies, chard, brussels sprouts and spaghetti in the same pot.
Ryan Foland: Yeah. I like that.
One of the things that I'll ask people when they are describing their market, I'll say, "Can you explain your market but without saying the A-word or the E-word?"
And then they look at me and it's kind of awkward that like the eyeballs are like, "I would never swear, I would never cuss."
And then when it comes out that the A-word is “anyone” and the E-word is “everyone” they get it and then they still try to explain it and more times than not they'll actually drop the word, the A-word or the E-word. It's hilarious.
Because as soon as you are for everyone, you are for no one.
Ryan Avery: Yeah, you can look at, I mean literally any company.
Take Nike, for example, what did Nike start out with?
Ryan Foland: A shoe?
Ryan Avery: Even more specific.
Ryan Foland: Oh, athletes, runners?
Ryan Avery: Runners, exactly. And even more specific than runners—
Ryan Foland: Runners who run long distances?
Ryan Avery: Yeah, we are getting there. It was collegiate, long-distance running — for men!
Okay, so it was male, collegiate shoes who wanted to run longer, and who could run faster.
The problem was they were running too slow, so they wanted to run faster.
So Phil Knight created a shoe, his solution was the waffle iron and created these new shoes that had a grip, that made them run faster.
Then all of a sudden, people started noticing this and now they started doing that with the women's team, and all of a sudden it was all colleges and then it went from colleges all running, and long-distance.
And then it was the tennis shoes and it was on, and on, and on, and on.
And now Nike is a $20-billion company.
So, think about what's the one thing that will allow you to do everything.
Ryan Foland: I like it, it is that magic tool, it is your pet dragon, essentially, the problem-solving dragon the P.S.D.
I usually make up words but now like just for today, I'm going to be acronym-full, we'll just call that AF.
Ryan Avery: Good. Maybe not AF too much, it means a different one, but yeah.
Ryan Foland: No, that's different, yeah. We've got to be careful with their acronyms, let's just call that BCA.
Ryan Avery: There you go.
Ryan Foland: The real question is whether or not you signal the “ofs” and the little words like the true, the pure acronyms are just straight-up word for word-for-letter.
Okay, so the final thing I want to pick your brain on here is your logline, the tagline, “The Keynote Speaker.” Tell me about that.
I read somewhere about “A” to “The”, and I'm curious what that is, and that might sort of be a fun spark to end the show on.
Ryan Avery: Yes, so I teach leaders how not to be a leader, rather the leader.
So nobody wants a product, they want the product.
People don't want to invest in an app, they want to invest in the app.
So if you're creating a, if you are a, if you see yourself as a, you're not going to see the growth you want.
If you commit to being the at what you do, you will have whatever you want in life.
So I teach the differences between ‘a’ and ‘the.’
And now I've been growing, where I teach a variety of them, I say one of my biggest ones is don't be a lawyer, be the lawyer.
Don't be a real estate agent, be the real estate agent.
I teach a variety of “a to the's” now because I focus on one audience, fix that problem, fix that solution and then have an opportunity to do more, so that's what I teach.
Ryan Foland: I like it, so don't be a speaker, be the speaker on whatever dare that pops into your mind, that puts you onto YouTube at the end of the day to search for what that next challenge is, even if it's taking on over 30K people on the big stage for the World Championship of speaking.
And that could just change your life.
I like it, Ryan, I think aside from us being little kings, I think we can live in the same kingdom and we can help rule together because I believe in abundance.
And it's so fun to hear things that people are doing that resonate with me, but I think if I had to pull one thing off of the shelf that I found my favorite aside from your A.P.S., because that's the step-brother/sister to the 3-1-3 is this idea of speak like you want to be taught.
I just think that's so refreshing and it really makes it so that you're not trying to keep up with the Joneses or imitate the Joneses, you create your own Joneses and think about yourself as an audience member first and that kind of focus I think will definitely resonate in the long term as people afterwards end up wanting to hire you and then you stack up 75 talks a year and then you enjoy life, the life, not a life.
Ryan Avery: Yeah, exactly.
It's how we should do everything.
I don't want to be in a relationship, I want to be in the relationship; I want to be a dad, I want to be the dad.
The rule is my life and it's created a lot of success and wealth and friendship and connection for me, and it has for a lot of other people.
So it's be “the” at what you do, and your life changes forever.
Ryan Foland: Alright.
So with that, what would, not a, but what would the way be to connect with you online, where would you point people?
Ryan Avery: I don't have social media, so the best way is RyanAvery.com, and that is where you can find how I write handwritten letters to people.
I wrote 14 letters before this so I'm constantly writing letters, and my email and my phone is there, so those are the 3 ways to get in touch with me.
Ryan Foland: Now, do you call an e-mail a letter or are you talking about pen to paper letter?
Ryan Avery: Yeah, pen to paper letter.
Ryan Foland: Sweet.
Ryan Avery: Yeah, I have a campaign [email protected], so if you want a handwritten letter, all you’ve got to do is email me at [email protected] and you answer 4 questions and then I write them back to you with a handwritten letter.
Ryan Foland: Wow, very cool. Alright, coming from the page to the vocal chords to the world and beyond, the next time anybody ever asks you, "What's the most challenging thing you've ever done?" if you don't have an answer, YouTube might have one for you and you never know where you'll end up, but wherever you end up, don't be a be the in that capacity.
Ryan, this has been a lot of fun. I want a letter, I'm going to hit you up, I'm going to figure this out and whether it's a letter online or if we share the stage sometimes, I'm looking forward to connecting the dots and continuing to follow and see what you've got going on, a lot of good stuff.
Ryan Avery: Me too, Ryan. Thanks for having me today.
Ryan Foland: Alright, I appreciate it. Everybody, if you liked this, do not go to social media for Mr. Ryan, you can find me on social media but go to his website RyanAvery.com.
This has been a blast Ryan, we'll talk to you soon, keep up the great work.
Ryan Avery: Thanks.
A bit about World of Speakers
World of Speakers is a bi-weekly podcast that helps people find their own voice, and teaches them how to use their voice to develop a speaking business.
We cover topics like: what works versus what doesn't, ideas on how to give memorable presentations, speaking tips, and ideas on how to build a speaking business.
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