World of Speakers E.72 COVID-19: Josh Linkner | Innovating in unprecedented times


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World of Speakers E.72 COVID-19 Josh Linkner

We are looking for ways to help our speakers and event organizers cope with the changes, and have connected with some of the top experts we have in our network. In this special series, we interview speaking experts on how to navigate the Coronavirus as a professional speaker.

Ryan Foland speaks with Josh Linkner, an expert on professional speaking, innovation, and thought leadership. In this fast-moving, insight-heavy interview, they discuss 3 key topics:

How to level-up and use this downtime to learn more, focus on your health, recharge, and reconnect

What expert speakers are doing right now to build their businesses, and how innovation and hard work now can have big payoffs down the line.

The future of professional speaking for the rest of 2020 and post-coronavirus.

Listen to the interview on iTunes or Soundcloud.

Subscribe to World of Speakers on iTunes or Soundcloud.


Ryan Foland: Ahoy everyone and welcome to another special edition of World of Speakers, COVID19-style. 

Today we have Josh Linkner. 

We had a great conversation on a prior World of Speakers podcast where you can get to know more about him, but think of him as the Miles Davis of keynote speaking. 

Ladies and gentlemen, Josh Linkner. 

Josh, how are you, sir?

Josh Linkner: I'm doing great, man. 

Thanks for having me and I hope everybody out there is happy and healthy.

Ryan Foland: Yeah. 

So let's jump right into it. 

I want to cover 3 main topics.

I want to talk about:

  1. What we can share with our fellow speakers for a little bit of inspiration. As the carpet has been pulled from under the feet of some, if not all, of us?

  2. Innovation: your core strength is when it comes to helping companies fight change. How can we do that with our speaking businesses?

  3. Speculation: I want you to get out the magic crystal ball and see the future, because we want to know what you see within that so we can find how we fit into it. 

Let's talk about inspiration. 

This has obviously caught people off guard, but Josh, you talk with so many speakers, and you support so many speakers. What are you telling them right now?

What is happening and how do we stay inspired?

Josh Linkner: Well I think we're all trying to figure that out.

We are obviously in unprecedented and uncharted waters.

My view is that the industry is going to emerge from this stronger than ever, even in a digital age. 

I think even though it's been great, Zoom calls and such with people, it's just reaffirming how important it is to be face-to-face. 

I think the impact that speakers can and will continue to make in the future is very bright. 

I look at this in 3 different ways. Quickly, just in timelines, I think for the next 90 days, and for those that are tuning in, we're recording this at the end of March 2020, I think the business is going to be completely shut, big old zero, and that stinks—but I'm just being real and honest about it. 

That being said, I think after that, once you start to hit the summer months, I think you're going to start to see some pick-up.

We've recently actually booked several speeches for the summer. People are still paying attention, they want to move forward, and obviously there's a cancellation clause, but I think we're going to start to see some real momentum. 

But come fall, and that's going to be sort of phase 3, I think you're going to see things rocket back. 

There's going to be pent up demand, there are going to be rescheduled events, and long-term, I remain deeply optimistic about our industry. 

As you and I have discussed before, in North America alone there are over $4B of speeches bought and sold every year. 

And there is plenty of opportunity for us all. 

So I think for us, it's how do we weather the storm? How do we come out stronger? 

Ryan Foland: It sounds like just being realistic with the situation is a great way to weather it, saying, 

"Look, for the next 90 days you just have to reset and re-calibrate what you thought was going to happen, and then pivot and move in a different direction."

So let's jump right into how to innovate your way out of this.

Josh Linkner: Well certainly, this is still a monkey wrench and no one could have predicted this. 

But as I was building my company, and I was very lucky, we entered a new industry — digital promotions — and very quickly became the dominant player in our field. 

And that was great, but I was worried that we would become intoxicated with our own success. 

One day, I realized that success is often achieved in the face of adversity, and since we didn't have that big, evil, arch-enemy to go fight against at the time, I made one up. 

I literally had all my team together, it's about 500 people, and I told them that, 

"Hey, there's a competitor out there that's bigger than us, faster than us, more innovative, deeper resources, better clients," and the name of the company was Slither. 

Now, Slither, I created a logo that looked like the Enron logo actually, but Slither, everyone knew was a fake competitor, it was our made up, evil enemy, our nemesis. 

But we started asking, using that as part of our culture, so we would say things like, "Well, how do you think Slither is handling this?" 

Or, "What's your counterpart at Slither's doing differently from you?" 

And even if we're trying to reverse engineer a new process, like if you're trying to save time on a project, it's better saying like, "Hey, how can we save 2 days?" 

We would say, "Hey, how do you think Slither would approach this?" 

And here's the thing: When you do that it really pushes your creative boundaries, and it removes the fear. 

Because if you're suggesting it for yourself, there are implications, there's responsibility. 

But if it's just, "What would Slither do," how awesome is that? 

So your version of Slither could be the ideal competitor that is well funded, they never miss a beat, they are really smart, and you might ask yourself, 

"What is Slither doing right now?" 

"What's the Slither of you in your speaking business doing differently than you are right now?”

“How are they taking advantage of this downtime better than you?"

And there's so much that we can learn from the Slither example.

The idea is basically challenging yourself to invent new possibilities instead of comparing yourself to your real-world competition. 

Of course, we all have real-world competition, but you invent “what would the ideal competitor do,” and then model your own behavior off of that.

Ryan Foland: Okay, so in this time right now, while we are in the next 90 days, and even bridging into the fall where things will hopefully pick back up, what are some of the things that we can do to compete in the long term against somebody who's doing everything that they should be doing in this downtime?

Josh Linkner: I've been asking myself this question a lot since we've all been secluded here. 

And the question is, if it's 12 months from now, how can I look back and be thankful for this time and feel like I did the right stuff during this unexpected downtime? 

I just have a few tips for anyone who's listening. 

1.  It's a wonderful time for learning.

What an amazing time to watch that Ted Talk that you haven't had the time to check out 

Or view a masterclass. 

Or read a good book.

Or follow your favorite podcasts. 

[Subscribe to the World of Speakers here.]

2. It's a great time to learn and expand your knowledge. 

Another one is building skills, whether it's working on your stage skills or working on your storytelling skills, or even working on some other skills, like playing guitar like I do, or some other hobby. It’s a great time to plus up your skills. 

Deep work

For me, I've been spending a lot of time going deep into what you might call deep creative work. The stuff that is always important but you rarely have time to do, and it's hard to do in between speeches, and airplanes, and TSA lines. 

So in my case, I'm working on a new book, which I had previously scheduled, but it's giving me much more time to go deep on the research. 

We're working out a massive brand relaunch, relaunching our website and completely changing the tone of voice that I'm bringing into the market. 

Also working on a new podcast, which has been, again, scheduled previously, but I'm working hard on that and we're going to have an accelerated launch. By the way, it's called "Creative Trouble Makers," which is kind of fun.

It's a good time for us all to focus on those deep work opportunities that we always say, "Gosh, I wish I had time to do that." 

Well, now we have time.

And just 2 other quick points:

3. Focus on your health

It's a great time to focus on our health. Not only to avoid the virus, but to get fit. 

What a great time to do those extra reps now that we've got some time. I know we can't go to the gym, but there's always a YouTube video you can follow along with. No one is preventing you from doing sit-ups or push-ups. 

4. Recharge and reconnect

And then finally, it's a great time to recharge, whether it's reconnecting with loved ones in a much more deep, meaningful way. Since our kids aren't off at sporting events, we can sit down with our families and have a nice dinner and a good conversation. 

So the whole goal, whatever your tactics are, is to say, 

"How can I emerge stronger? 

How can I emerge from this crisis better off than I was before, better prepared to meet the challenges of the day?" 

And again, being able to look back and be proud of the work that we did in these unprecedented circumstances.

Ryan Foland: No, that's a great way to reverse engineer what to do now, as opposed to playing the “woo-hoo!”. 

Here's something that I'm struggling with personally, and maybe others are as well: Knowing that this is going to have an impact for the next 90 days, for the next 6 months, let's even say for the next year, that it will be on our minds regardless of how the actual pandemic plays out... 

...I'm trying to figure out whether it's better to position myself in this next year as someone who can deliver a message digitally or reinforcing, 

"Here is my message that can be delivered, oh by the way, I can still do that digitally." 

Do I push my ability and my digital-savviness to feel confident in delivering a keynote digitally, or a workshop digitally, and focus on that digital delivery process? 

Or do I still stick with, "You need to ditch the act, you need to simplify your messaging, I'm here for you, oh, by the way, yeah! Yeah we can do it on Zoom." 

I'm looking at those 2. I'm curious about your thoughts?

Josh Linkner: Well, that's only one man's opinion and I could certainly argue the other side of it, but my opinion is to stay focused on your area of expertise and the value and transformation that you create for your customers. 

And whether that manifests digitally, or in person, or on the telephone, or using pen and paper, I think it's more important to focus on the value that you deliver to customers. 

Furthermore, you know it's funny, so many speakers are like, 

"Okay, now I'm just going to switch everything to digital." 

Here's the problem, and I don't mean to be discouraging because I'm like a tech guy—I love technology—but I don't think that that is going to have the market demand that we all hope. 

Here's why: 

If all they want is training, if all they want is just the raw data from you, they could either 

a) read your book,
b) follow your podcast or read your blog or
c) do a training program online. 


But that's not actually what most people are buying when they buy a keynote. 

The reason they're doing the session usually is far bigger than URI. 

In other words, if it's UBS and they're bringing their top 1500 employees together to Las Vegas because they don't work hand in hand except for once a year, the reason they're together isn't only to learn our topic. As much as we think our topic is the greatest thing ever, they're there for different reasons. 

Maybe they're there to entertain clients or to nurture key relationships. Maybe they're there to amplify key partnerships. 

And what we do is partly entertainment. They want us to be energizing, they want us to give good nuggets of content that our folks can talk about at the cocktail hour, but it's not just raw, pure training and delivery of content that can happen in a number of different ways. 

So in other words, maybe for 10-15% of the market, all they want is your content and they can get it via a Zoom call, but I think most of this electrifying experience that we create as keynote speakers? That, frankly, can't be replicated in a digital realm. 

Ryan Foland: That's interesting. 

I was on your monthly webinar, The 3 Ring Circus alumni group, which is awesome and I just love it. 

It was amazing how many people were on this time. It was just like the most ever because this is so top-of-mind. 

One of the things that you were saying, which is kind of reinforcing your one man's opinion there, is that this is the time to really double-down on that core message. 

But you also said how that message applies to COVID19. 

How do you balance this? Staying focused on your expertise, staying in that one-inch-wide-by-a-mile-deep, how much do we need to apply it to COVID19 and all of these other elements that are just so top of mind but they might just be here for a certain amount of time?

Josh Linkner: Yeah, unless you're Anthony Fauci, I don't think you should be like the COVID19 speaker. 

Because that's just not in our area of expertise, and the people that change expertise like the “flavor of the day,” I don't think they end up achieving success. 

However, the question becomes, what can your core message do to help people who are going to be recovering economically and health-wise from such an unprecedented crisis? 

For example, if someone was a speaker on “overcoming adversity”.

There's a message there that your core expertise, overcoming adversity, again, don't change that, but maybe there could be a speaking topic around how you can use the principles of overcoming adversity to bounce back from a recession or bounce back from a health crisis. 

If you are someone about courage, maybe you talk about how people can use courage to win in the post virus times that hopefully we’ll be in shortly. 

I think it's about going deep on your existing area of expertise rather than changing it. Talking about how that particular area can help people.

I talk about innovation. So I'm sure I'll be talking about how we can use creative problem solving and inventive thinking to rebound after such an unexpected crisis.

Ryan Foland: When it comes to your system that you've set up, I love your "play your card" analogy. 

For those that don't know, think of your speaker card just like a hockey card or a baseball card. You've got things like your:

  • speaking skills

  • message

  • credibility 

  • visual flair 

  • entertainment value

  • impact 

  • marketing polish

Right now would you add anything else we need to be self-evaluating on at this time?

What are those other statistics that we can start working on that might not be on that initial card, or are you like, "It's all there." 

Josh Linkner: Yeah, just to bring everyone up to speed. 

We run a program called "3 Ring Circus" that helps speakers build and scale their speaking practice. 

And we've taken the best practices that we've used to build a $4M+ speaking business, as well as we're endorsed by all the major bureaus. 

And we really try to dissect when someone buys a speaker, why are they paying the money that they are? 

Why does someone get $5K vs $50K, and why does speaker A get chosen a lot more than speaker B? 

We try to demystify that. We break it down into core elements, and that's exactly what you're referring to as this player card. 

And we kind of came up with this list of elements where every point that you can improve your score in each of these elements will boost your business. It will boost your fee and boost your volume. 

I think that the ones that are on our original player card are good. We've actually just been discussing whether there is a revised version of it. 

I have it in front of me. I'll just read them off to you for the listeners on the call.

The idea is that these are 10 factors that will drive your speaking business. 

Like if you had a car and you sold the car. The more horsepower, perhaps, the car has, it will be worth more. The more gas mileage, maybe, you get a higher price. 

Similarly, if you boost your score in each of these skills, you're going to get a higher fee and get booked more. 

So here's my updated card that I've been playing: 

1. Fame and name recognition

The more well-known you are. Obviously if you're Barack Obama, people know who you are — you're going to get booked. 

But that's not the only thing. Let's dig into some other ones: 

2. Credibility

If you've written multiple books. I mentioned Dr. Anthony Fauci who's been the head of the infectious disease institute since 1983 or something. That guy is like 40 years in the chair. Nobody's got better credibility on that topic than him. 

3. Impact

What's the lasting impact that you create for your audience? Instead of just fun, how are they different 5 months or 5 years from now?

4. Topic demand

If you speak about something really obscure that maybe would be a nice breakout session, you might not find yourself on the main stage keynote. 

On the other hand, if your topic is in demand in terms of that it's a highly desired topic by major leaders, you're going to get booked more. 

5. Your overall influence

What's your social media platform? How big of a voice or a big of a megaphone do you have? 

6. Your overall brand

How strong is your brand? Is your marketing polished? Your website? Your video? All that kind of stuff. 

7. Stage skills

How good are you on stage? And yeah it still matters of course. 

There are a couple of other ones: 

8. Compelling personality

If you're pretty good but there's not something special about the way you say stuff, then you're just a good college professor. 

But if there's something compelling about you, that's going to make people want you to be at their event and share your look and your magic with the audience. 

The last two are:

9. Hustle

How bad do you want it? How much are you willing to hustle? How quick do you respond? Do you have that grit, determination and tenacity, and resourcefulness to get gigs booked. 

Ten is a new one, which is the

10. Fun factor

I think maybe I downplayed this a bit, but I think meeting planners and audiences really want fun.

So if all you do is charts and graphs and 80 words per screen with 4px font, that's not fun, and that's not what people want. 

So even if you have a serious topic, like cybersecurity or economics, can you tell it in a fun way that makes people smile and makes people laugh? 

Add all those together, give yourself a 1 to 10 score. The higher your overall score is, the more you can charge, and the more fees/stages you'll book.

Ryan Foland: Awesome. 

So there are new ones in there and it's interesting. The fun, I mean, this is a very dark time right now and a little bit of levity can probably go a long way if done tactfully. So I like that. 

My question to you when it comes to building this overall scorecard. 

One that you didn't specifically mention but I know is important, is your speaker reel. 

Do you see that as part of the card or is that separate to the card?

Josh Linkner: Yeah, I had that on the list under brand. 

Ryan Foland: Okay. 

Josh Linkner: If you double-click on Brand (in your mind) that's the number one most important marketing asset that you have, bar none. 

The thing is, most decisions get made without ever talking to a client. 

It's funny when you think about who is your most important audience. We often think of the thousands of adoring fans out there looking up at our speech. 

Really, our most important audience is the audience before the audience, and that is that committee meeting where they're deciding whom to book. 

Imagine that you made the shortlist, now they've narrowed the field down to 3 speakers and there are 8 grumpy people in a meeting deciding whom to hire — you don't get a chance to show up at the meeting, so you have to shine based on the video that you have. 

That marketing video, which is again a subset of your overall brand, is your most important marketing asset. 

We always say, you have to look as good or better than you do on stage in the context of that video. 

Ryan Foland: Now, you have mentioned that you still do see the long term value of live speaking, which is awesome, and it totally makes sense. 

But in this next year, if we're going off of your assumptions that there will be 90 days of nothing, another 90 days of ramp-up, maybe another 90 days to follow, is it important to refresh our speaker reel to address the digital format? 

And personally, the experience I've had is nobody wants to hire you for a big stage until they see you on a big stage, and that's one of the challenges. 

I've finally got my big stage video to include, but is that as important now where it's like, would they rather see that you're really good on a LinkedIn live as a guest or highlighting some of the digital speaking that you've done? 

Do you think it's important to incorporate that? At least for the next, let's say, 180 days to a year? 

Josh Linkner: It's easier for a buyer to imagine you on a screen than imagine you on a stage. 

If you look great on a stage and you're lighting people up, they're going to be able to extrapolate, 

"You know, that guy would probably be good on a Zoom call."

If you really wanted to, and you want to follow that advice, you could always just do something yourself, like shoot yourself on a video screen, and put in a little browser window or something, and just be like really friendly and personable, and authentic, and real, and high energy, so they can see it. I would just shoot that as a second, supplemental, low-budget video versus replacing your whole big shot package.

Ryan Foland: Got it, okay, that's great. 

All right, so I know I'm just firing away but we're just trying to get all kinds of stuff out of you here. 

You mentioned social media, and you've been doing awesome on social media, like I've just seen you're more present on every platform, so kudos to that. 

And if you're not following Josh, Josh, it's just @JoshLinkner pretty much everywhere, right? 

Josh Linkner: That's correct. 

Ryan Foland: So, social media. What is shared doesn't necessarily go away, and there are a lot of speakers who are in, say in terms of my book "ditching the act," and they're being a bit more vulnerable.

Some of them are sharing their journey of this up and some of them down— is that content something that we as speakers need to be aware of? 

Do you think that could come back to bite us in the butt, or is it really something that is important to do so that when an event planner looks back and searches and sees and finds how you dealt with this crisis, how much is that going to impact? 

Because we might not be thinking about it, we're just like creating content or sharing stuff, and we're just talking about what's happening — how are you navigating the social media aspect? 

Because it's not really business as usual, so how are you seeing, at least for you personally, going out there and sharing along the lines of this is what's happening during this tough time?

Josh Linkner: Great question. 

My belief is that being real and authentic, and vulnerable, and sharing a little bit of things that are personal, like your fears, is totally fine. 

I don't think that will come back and hurt you. If anything, I think it'll come back and help you, because it shows that you're a real person and you're authentic and open, and even a little bit vulnerable, which both buyers and audiences love. 

What I think you want to avoid is something that would be offensive, where the buyer watches it and then says to themselves, "I can't put this person on my stage."

So if you're swearing like a truck driver, that could come back to bite you. 

If you're deep off the rails on one political view or the other, that could come back and bite you. 

If you're in an angry rant and blaming others, that could come back to bite you. 

So you think about like, when comedians have gotten in trouble for going too far using racial epithets or something like that, like those are the things that are going to really hurt you on social media. They never go away. 

But being honest and authentic like, "Look, we're in a tough time right now and I'm scared," that's an okay thing to say, and I don't think it hurts at all. If anything, I think it elevates your brand.

Ryan Foland: Good, good. 

If you do want to learn how to ditch the act, that's what my book is all about. 

It's funny because we wrote this book. It came out in October, and we're trying to convince people to be more vulnerable, and now all this happens and everybody is stuck at home and they're flooding to social media, and they're finding being authentic and connecting, and it's so much fun to see everybody connecting in a new way on social. 

It's less, "Look at me" and it's more like, "I'm bored," or, "What are you doing," or, “I need help” or, “Let's find something to talk about.” 

Josh Linkner: Yeah, I think we can make real connections even in a digital way, but I love your book, by the way, "Ditch The Act”, and I think that's exactly what we need to do. 

I'm trying to do that myself, man. Not that I've been acting, but I feel like I've got a certain public persona and I'm trying to remove any layer between public and personal. I always try to be appropriate, but there really shouldn't be two different versions, and a lot of that guidance comes from you.

Ryan Foland: Well I'll tell you, as somebody who looks up to you as like the pinnacle, or you know, the Miles Davis of what I'm trying to get to, it is really refreshing when you are human and you're like, "This is what I'm struggling with too," and I think people really are drawn to that. 

You're doing a good job that you're not hiding, you're not pretending like everything is not there, you're really being of service to people who are looking up to you, so that's cool.

This has been an awesome set of information, almost too much, which is a good thing, so I'm sure people can listen again. 

I do want to talk a little bit about your speculation; and this is really the future of speaking. 

You kind of touched on it, but for those people who are still trying to determine based on the data that you have and your experience, what does the future of speaking look like?

Josh Linkner: Well, as dark of times as we may be in currently, I'm really optimistic. 

I think the industry will continue to expand. 

I think there's going to be plenty of opportunities for those that are willing to really work hard and have an important message to say. 

I don't think it's easy. I mean, there's certainly competition that is even becoming more competitive.

But if you work on your business the same way you'd work on, if you were a doctor, your medical practice, or if you're a lawyer, building your client base, the same type of thing, I think there's a tremendous opportunity. 

The way I continue to look at it is that if you're a professional speaker, there is sort of you're running 3 concurrent interconnected businesses; one is the business side; and there’s brand, and marketing, and positioning and all. 

Another aspect of it is thought leadership. So being an expert in whatever your field of study is. So mine is innovation, and I go really, really deep in that, I am constantly reading and writing about that particular topic, but that's what buyers want, an expert in something. 

So that's thought leadership. 

That's also sharing your thought leadership, whether it's in books or podcasts, or videos, or blogs, or wherever else. 

Then the third bucket is your performance skills. I mean, to a degree, we're performing artists in the same way someone on Broadway is a performing artist. 

If you look at those 3 interconnected businesses, and you really work to become sort of the top 5%, you're willing to do what 95 percent of others won't do, so that you get into the top 5% in each of those categories. 

I don't think it's about natural talent as much as it's about hustling and doing the reps. 

And if you do that I believe there is a very, very bright future for anyone who wants to pursue it.

Ryan Foland: I think that going into this, at least the last few months and prior to that, it seems as though there's just been a total influx of so many people who want to do professional speaking. Just this crazy, massive increase in supply, and the demand didn't really change too much. And there seem to be challenges for speakers to break out or breakthrough that noise and be seen as a top 5 percent. 

What is your prediction or your speculation on the supply of speakers, as a result of being totally dry for the next 90 days and still a little patchy after that?

I'm curious because you have so many speakers that you work with. What's going to happen to the supply? 

Is it really going to be a lower supply and higher demand, or from economic value, what do you see?

Josh Linkner: Well because the bar is very low in our industry, I don't think that there's going to be a shortage of supply.

Look at the field of acting, for example, there’s way bigger supply than demand. Everybody in LA wants to be an actor. 

But the problem is that not everybody is a good actor, and not everybody has done the work so that they build their craft and their skills and their business to the point where they're going to be getting a starring role in a featured film. 

And so I think that it's a pretty good parallel, actually. 

So for all of us, it's one thing to say, "I'm a speaker," because you can just say that. I mean anybody who can open up a PowerPoint and get in front of a microphone can technically say that they are a speaker. 

Just like anyone can learn two chords and say they are a guitarist, but you're not necessarily Eric Clapton until you do the work. 

I think that, again, I wouldn't worry so much about the supply side of it. I think for those of us that are committed to the craft that treats this like a profession instead of a hobby, I think there's going to be plenty of work for us as long as we're following the discipline that we need to elevate ourselves in our field.

Ryan Foland: Interesting. I love that you say everybody can be a speaker.

I'm actually trying to convince everyone that they are a speaker. 

If you speak in public, then you are a public speaker. It's a scientific fact that you cannot argue with either. 

We're all public speakers at the end of the day.

But I like this idea of working on your craft to get to where you do stand out, and you do treat it real.

I think that the next 90 days, the next 180 days, that's really going to be the challenge, and the opportunity for people who have a chance to really work in and on their business, as opposed to kind of throwing their hands up.

Josh Linkner: Yeah, one thing you said I think is so smart, but I just wanted to parse that out a bit, that everybody is a speaker, and that's true, I think everybody has a voice. 

But there's a difference between being a speaker and a professional. 

So I would say that yes, everybody's a speaker but just because you gave the speech at your aunt's wedding and people laughed, doesn't mean you're a professional speaker. 

I don't mean to be disparaging by the way. Maybe you could be. I hope you are. But just let's treat it the same way as to say to yourself that just because you can throw a pitch doesn't mean you're a professional baseball player. 

You have to do a lot of work to become a professional baseball player. 

[Read next: Why are you acting like a rookie?]

What I'm hoping that people take away here is that we all can become professional speakers, we just got to do the work.

Ryan Foland: Yeah.

And I like to tell people that to become a successful _____. So we can put anything in here, but let's say successful speakers are not doing what everyone else cannot do, successful speakers are doing what everyone can do but not everyone does.

And that's putting the work in, putting the grind in. I think a lot of times we look for hacks, when at the end of the day, it's like you said, this is your profession: dig in and dig deep. 

So I think that's a great way to look at it. 

This is an interesting time to thank our sponsors, SpeakerHub, who puts all of this together for me. If you are a speaker, it can be lonely right now, and SpeakerHub Is a way to connect with other speakers. It's a marketplace for speakers. It's a way to find calls for speakers and it's a way to present yourself as a speaker. 

So if you're not on SpeakerHub, now's a good time to maybe check it out. 

Josh, it has been great to talk with you. 

How do people get more information? How do they learn about the 3 Ring Circus? How do they find you? How do they connect? 

Because this is just the tip of your iceberg, and I've been a fan for a while, so where do people go to get more of Josh?

Josh Linkner: Yeah, thanks so much. 

So if you're interested in us helping you grow your speaking business, go to It's a little joke like after all, it's a circus out there, and we've kind of been playful with the name, even though we treat the business very seriously. 

Because there's all this BS out there like, "Hey, become a zillionaire speaker." 

And we just wanted to be real and authentic and get people the actual, what they need to do to build their speaking practice. 

So anyway, it's 

If you'd like to learn more about me, my website is my name and my social handles are all my name @JoshLinkner.

Ryan Foland: If you're a speaker out there, hey, Josh says that it's going to be okay— and I think that following and taking advice from people who have ridden this storm for a long time and who have found success, it's worth listening too. 

So Josh, great information. It really just, if I was to say one thing that stands out, it’s that everyone is a speaker, but now is the time to get serious about being a professional speaker.

And there will always be high demand for highly entertaining speakers who have core messages that speak and impact your audience. 

So build your player cards people, check out Josh, check out SpeakerHub, check me out. There's just a lot of people who are trying to serve right now, and I'm excited to contribute to that. 

Josh, I’m talking too much, that's because I'm a big fan of yours, and I'm excited to see this all work out for everyone.

Josh Linkner: Thanks so much for the time today. 

Thanks for your leadership in the industry, and stay safe and healthy.

Ryan Foland: I will do. 

And everyone wash your hands and don't touch your face. 


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. 

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