Grant Baldwin is a renowned public speaker who makes a living at public speaking and by helping others get the confidence to find and do the work they love. Grant speaks to youth, college students and educators on how to make the most out of their life and their career.
Highlights from this episode:
- How to overcome challenges
- What a person needs to do to start a career as a public speaker
- What steps to take in order to find a career that you love
- Tips on getting paid to speak
Quote from Grant
“Life is too short to do something you hate”
How to Connect with Grant
Website: Grant Baldwin
Hello everyone. Today with us, we have Grant Baldwin, who is a public speaker that has spoken at hundreds of events all over the country, which includes over 350,000 people. Not 350 people, 350,000 people. Grant, how the heck are you doing today man?
I’m doing delightful, I get to hang out with Deacon. All is well in my world.
Same here man. I’m excited to have you in the show. I remember when we first met, I think a couple of years ago at Podcast Movement. We did some spiff on podcasting that was a fun thing. Glad to have you on the show today.
It’s an honor. I’m excited to be here, and I’m excited to hang out with everybody today.
Awesome man. People say that they’re public speakers, right, or that they do public speaking, but most can’t say the spoke to over 350,000 people. Even that, they haven’t spoken to hundreds of events, maybe they’ve done a couple.
How did you get into public speaking?
Yeah, you’re stealing my question. How did you get into that? The nutshell is, I actually was a youth pastor for a little while. I went to Bible college and I was a youth pastor for a while. Parts of it I like, parts of it I didn’t like, but I really enjoyed speaking. It is something I felt like I am good at, I enjoyed doing. I felt like I could make a living at that. Is that possible? Is that a thing? I started looking around, found a couple of people that were doing it full time. They were making a living from it. I really just reaching out to them, figuring out what they were doing, what was working for them, and then it just slowly started getting booked for some stuff, reaching out, and finding specific events that were booking speakers, building connections and relationships. At this point, we’ve been doing this full time for about 7 years now. Travel all over the US and speaking on a lot of different conferences, convention, colleges, all types of events. It’s been a lot of fun for sure.
That sounds like a blast. One thing I’m sure people are always wondering is did you get paid from the start, or how did that started happening?
How did you start getting paid to do public speaking?
With speaking I think a lot of times people assume you have to do a ton of speaking for free. You could do that, but my first keynote actually, I was paid $1,000 for my very first presentation. We teach people about that today. About how you can go out and do that. Again you can certainly speak for free at the local rotary club, or chamber of commerce, or something, but there are plenty of organizations, and groups, and conferences that are looking for quality speakers that they will pay for.
Yeah, from the beginning … I’m not running a non profit. I like to eat and live indoors. These things are important to me. We’ve always charged and we teach people about that today. How you can get booked and paid to speak.
This might be hard to recall, but I’m just curious if you can. Do you remember the first email or telephone call that you’ve got where they said, “Hey, you know what, we’ve got this keynote and we’re interested in having you speak. What do you charge?” Do you remember that conversation?
What do you charge for a public speaking gig?
Yeah a little bit because at that time like anytime you’re charging for anything and you’ve really never charged for something before. Anything above 0 is going to feel like a lot. It’s a very intimidating process. One of the first things I did was just try to check in with other people in that market, in that space, figure out what is the going rate for this? I have no idea. Just this morning, I did a photo shoot for some new head shots. I was talking with them about doing some family pictures, and they’re like, “Well, I don’t know.” I don’t even know what the going rate is. You just don’t know, what you don’t know.
One of the first things to do is just asking other people around and try to figure out what would be the going rate for something like that. For speaking, for a brand new speaker, maybe you’ve done a couple things before, but never been paid for something, it’s not unheard of to be paid a $500, $1,000, or $2,000 or so. Now I can go way, way up to 5 to $10,000 dollars and all up to 25, 50, $100,000 for big wig celebrities and people that can really draw a crowd. In the beginning, it’s not unheard of to at all to get a 500 or $1000 for your very first presentation. Again, this is all assuming that you are a good speaker, you don’t have to be the best in the world by any means, but it’s not like this is your first time ever communicating with other humans.
I vividly remember emailing them, and talking to them, and quoting a $1000, and they didn’t balk at all. I was like that’s crazy, that just seems ridiculous and absurd, but it worked out really well. Thankfully we’ve had a little bit of success since then.
You say that, and I think some people would think, “Gosh, we’re only going to speak for what, half an hour, an hour and you get paid a 1000 bucks,” but what kind of work goes into the backend of public speaking?
What type of work happens behind the scenes?
Yeah I think that’s a great point. It is easy in theory to look at. Well, you’re only on stage for 45 minutes, or whatever. That’s crazy that you can charge that, yeah but you’re paying me to leave my family, which is very, very expensive. Let’s say for example, I’m going to speak at a conference. I’ll give you an example, you and I are going to FinCon this week and I will speak on Sunday. I’ll be doing that, the closing keynote for that, but I’m flying out there Thursday. Partly because I want to attend the event but partly because that’s when they ask of speakers is that you’re there for the conference.
I’m speaking once but I’m going to be gone for 4 days. That’s a bit unusual for me. A lot of times if I’m speaking one time it may be I come in the day before. Maybe I speak that morning and fly out that afternoon, but it’s not one hour on stage, it’s really 48 hours that I’m gone, that I have to be away from my family, or that I can’t be doing something else. There is that part. The other side of it too, whenever it comes to speaking, same way with a lot of things is that you’re not just paying for that one talk that I’ve done. You’re paying for the hundred and hundred and hundreds of other talks that got me to the point where I’m really, really good at what I do.
It’s almost like, “Why do you pay a brain surgeon so much?” Because, they’ve done this enough that they really know that they are the expert. They are the absolute best at what it is that they do. If they’ve come in and they snip a couple things and they’d cut a couple things and they sew a couple things and it takes them 30 seconds, you’re not paying them for that 30 seconds. You’re paying them for the years and years and years of training and experience that they’ve built that allows them to be able to do what they do in such precise and accurate way, thankfully.
That’s kind of the way it is with speaking. You’re not just paying for that one time. You’re paying for the years and years of preparation, and training, and practice, and other presentations that I’ve been able to do that have allowed me to present a really quality presentation to your audience. There’s definitely a lot more that goes into it beyond the just the, “Yeah, I was on stage for 30 minutes and that’s what I got paid for.”
I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ll be speaking at FinCon too but I won’t be doing a keynote. It’s going to be exciting to be there with you. For people that are listening to this, a lot of time, people will glorify something they’re like, “Oh my gosh that would be amazing.” I’m sure that there are down sides to public speaking, or challenges that you face.
What are the challenge that you face when it comes to public speaking?
Yeah I’ll give you a couple different things. From the business side of it, speaking is a lot of fun but it doesn’t scale well. The nature of speaking means that I get on a plane, I leave my family, I go away, I collect a check, and then I come home. You can only do that so many times in a month, or in a year.
There’s only so many dates that you would want to speak or there’s so many days that you’d want to be home. There’s only so much that you can charge. Basically you get to a point where there’s a ceiling, and it is great. I love what it is that I do but at the end of the day you are trading dollars for hours. That can become very, very difficult.
The other side of it too that I kind of elude to there is just that I really like speaking but it’s way more important to me to be an excellent husband and father. The challenge of speaking is that you leave your family. That you are away for a few days. That’s tough, even though most of the trips I take I’m gone for a night or 2 nights at the most. A lot of times it’s pretty minimal but I’m still away from my family. That’s not fun for me, it’s not fun for them. It’s difficult on my wife. We’ve got 3 little girls. I just don’t like leaving my family. There’s definitely that part of it, and even travel.
Sometimes, people think travel is this very sexy glamorous thing. Travel is fun. It’s great going to different places around the country, or the world, but at the same time travel is very tiring. Staying in another hotel or forgetting what time zone you’re in or missing a flight or losing your luggage or dealing with weather. All of those things, that’s just part of it. That’s the none glamorous none sexy part that nobody sees.
Nobody sees that the time where there’s … I remember I was flying from Denver to Chicago and I have like a 2 hour drive to go speak at the school. I remember there’s just delay after delay, big snow storm. Basically, I got to the airport, got to Chicago, drove a couple of hours, didn’t sleep at all, go straight to the school. I remember brushing my teeth in the school parking lot before going in to do a presentation. Thinking like, this is the glamorous part. Nobody sees this right now. Nobody sees that I haven’t slept at all. Nobody sees that I’m exhausted. Nobody sees the time that my flight was cancelled, so I drove 8 hours through the night to speak in Indianapolis the next day. Nobody sees that part. You know granted that didn’t happen often but does happen and that’s just part of it. There’s certainly parts of it that are not as fun that nobody knows about.
I love to get both sides of it because I people can get really excited about something and then they want to get into it, and then they get into, and like you said, they see this other side where there’s all these challenges all these hurdles. Maybe it’s not for them. I like to paint both sides of the picture. Tell us about the exciting things.
What do you love about public speaking?
There’s nothing that really compares to being on stage, in front of a live audience, and just know that they’re with you. That you’re taking them on a journey and you know the punchline. You know when you’re going to make them laugh. You know when your going to make them think. You know when you’re going to make them cry. You know these different moments. It’s a really powerful experience.
Plus, just the nature of public speaking is you have a great opportunity to really impact peoples lives, not just in that moment. I’ve had a lot, I mean hundreds and thousands of people that have told me, “That talk was amazing. You have no idea what I am going through, and here’s how’d that helped me.”
Even people months or years later, sometimes people will send me an email that said, “I still remember what you talked about whenever I heard you speak at X or whatever.” Those things are just really really cool. It’s really rewarding because I think sometimes that’s a challenge with different jobs and professions is you feel like, “I’m doing this, but does it really matter? I’m unclogging toilets. Does anybody even care, you know?”
To have people come up and tell like, “Man, you really impacted my life. You really made this tangible difference in my world.” That is really really significant. It’s really cool. Not to take away from … If I got a clogged toilet and you come to fix it, you’re saving my day. That’s wonderful, but it is cool to know that you’re impacting someone in a really profound or significant way.
That is awesome. Someone is listening to you and they’re like, “Oh my gosh. It sounds like Grant’s passionate about what he does.” That does something that might jive with them.
Where do you even start?
I think a couple things. First of all, let me tell you this. I get that question a lot from people. It’s almost like someone asking like how do you build a house? I can give you the 30 second answer but there’s a lot more that goes into this. We actually put together a free email course called How to Get Started as a Speaker. You can download that for free over at bookedandpaidtospeak.com. it’s totally free. If you are interested definitely should check that out. It goes into a lot more depth about how to get started as a speaker.
I think three foundational key questions that people really need to answer are, first of all, why do you want to speak? Is this something that you want to do just a couple times a year? Is this something like in my case, maybe you to do it full time. You want to speak 50, 60 times year. Maybe for you, you are like I would like to speak at five things. Speaking is one of those things that people find intriguing, fascinating, and interesting. That’s great that you want to speak. I think you got to know why. Why do you want to do this in the first place>
The other questions would be who do you want to speak to and what is it that you want to talk about? You can’t just say, “I want to speak to anybody.” “What do you want to talk about?” “Well, I’ll talk about anything.” That’s not going to work. Same thing if you’re doing a podcast or if you’re doing a blog. Who’s your blog for? “Well it’s for everybody.” Well then it’s really for nobody actually because you really got to be clear on this is who I talk to, this is what I talk about. You really, really focus and clear on that. If you’re just saying I want to talk to anybody about anything, then that’s not going to work. Nobody’s going to book you for that. You want to get really really intentional and clear not only why you want to speak, who you want to speak to and what it is you want to talk about.
I think those are great tips and I’ll definitely link to that in the show notes because I think people can get some value out of that. Let’s say someone is listening to you and they are not really into public speaking but the fact that you say doing something that you love, finding a career that you actually enjoy is something that you’re passionate about or that you emphasis, what are some tips that you might have for them?
Tips for those wanting to get paid to speak
Yeah I will give you a couple thoughts on this. I think the reality is that we all have to make a living. We all need a paycheck. We all need to be doing something. Why wouldn’t you do something you enjoy? Deacon you and I we both know people, we have met people who they just they hate their job and, “I hate my job and I hate my boss and I hate my coworkers and I hate my life.” It’s like that sucks. We all have to do something. Life is too short to do something that you hate. That doesn’t mean necessarily that you are like, “Okay forget this, I am going to quit my job on Friday and on Monday I am going to find the magical dream job filled with rainbows and unicorns and pixie dust.” That doesn’t work. You really got to think that stuff through but knowing that you don’t just have to be stuck in something that you hate. You can pursue work that you love.
I think a couple of things, one would just be figuring out what are you passionate about? What is it that drives you? What is it that makes you tick? What is it that you are really really into? Another question would be what are you good at? What are the things that I just get? They just click for me, they just make sense for me. Speaking is one of those things for me. I really like speaking. I feel like I work really hard at it but I also feel like it comes somewhat naturally to me. What are those things that you just feel like, “I don’t know I am just good at. It just makes sense.”
The other thing is what do you enjoy doing? Again if we all have to work, we all got to make a living, like why wouldn’t you do something that is fun? For me I look forward to Monday mornings. Some people live life where it’s thank God it’s Friday to oh God it’s Monday. I just look forward to what it is I get to do because I want to do something that I enjoy. Figuring out what are you passionate about? What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? How do those things begin to translate into a career. Now having said all that and we kind of touched on this on the speaking stuff, I would also say that there is no such thing as a perfect job. It does not exist. You need to find something where you are enjoying probably 70 to 80% of what you do.
Like I said, I really like speaking. I really like my business as it’s set up right now but there are certainly parts of it I don’t like. We kind of touched on those earlier. If you feel like you are just having a bad day it doesn’t mean you hate your job. It may just mean that you are having a bad day. That happens to everybody. A good question to ask yourself is, “Is this a season or is this the way it is?” Is this a season or is this the way it is? If this is a season and I am just like, it’s just hectic or stressful or busy or chaotic or just life is beating me up right now, maybe it’s just a season. Or you may step back and be like no no no this is the way it is. My business or my job, it’s just like this all the time and I’m always miserable. At that point you need to start thinking about your exit strategy. You need to start thinking about what you would rather be doing. What would make the most sense for you.
What are you passionate about? What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? How do those things translate into a career?
You know that makes me think of is did you see that speech that Steve Jobs did? The Stanford address that he did?
Right. Yeah yeah yeah.
Where he says you know I looked in the mirror and he said I asked myself if this was the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? If the answer was ‘no’ enough days in a row, he is like, I need to do something different. Just like you are saying, is this a season or is this just the way it is? If it’s just the way it is than you got to take action. You got to do something about it.
Right and to speak to that like sometimes people ask me, “Hey how long are you going to keep speaking?” Like as long as it’s fun. When it’s not fun do something else. I think that’s true with anything. As long as you are having fun and enjoying it, but don’t feel like, well I am doing this career and I went to college for this and this is what my family expects me to do and this is what society thinks I should do therefore I have to do it forever. No you don’t. You are an adult. You are a grown up okay? Put your big boy pants on and if you need to find a different job or you need to start a different business or you need to go in a different direction than start taking steps that way rather than just siting back and feeling like the world owes you something.
I will give you a quick example. I remember I was on a flight recently and at the beginning of the flight they were explaining how to buckle a seat belt, which is important. At the end of their little safety spiel they said thanks for flying with us. Have a great flight or don’t. It’s up to you. I was like … I have never heard that before. I was like that is so true. Everybody on that flight will have a totally different experience. Have a great flight or don’t. Have a great life, have a great business, have a great job, or don’t. Whatever. It’s totally up to you. It’s not your boss’ fault. It’s not the company’s fault. It’s not the society or economy or whatever. You have the ability to choose what life is like for you. I think that once you kind of wrap your mind around that, I think that is a really freeing and liberating thought.
Absolutely. Mindset and attitude is everything and that is something that we have control over. One of my things that my grandpa used to say is, “Don’t give me excuses. Give me results.” I think a lot of people, they come up with excuses and one that I think I want to run by you is what if someone is listening and they are like, I think I would like public speaking but I don’t like people. I am an introvert. What do you say to that?
I would say I am actually very introverted. I like people but I also like not being around people. I am not the type of person that, like whenever I go speak for example, I spend a large majority of my time in my hotel room because I like being around people and I enjoy it and it’s fun but it’s also very very tiring to me. I think that’s okay. I think that’s totally fine. In fact, I find that a lot of the speakers that I know and speakers that I am friends with are very very introverted. We like people, we like hanging around people but I have no problem just being in my room or going to dinner by myself or just watching Netflix.
Even when I am at home, given the choice between going out with some people or staying home, I will stay home 99 night out of 100. I am just fine with that. It doesn’t bother me. I don’t think it’s necessarily like you have to be this ecstatic personality on stage or something. I don’t think that’s the case at all. I am pretty much the same person on and off stage. There really is no reason to be any different. I don’t think you have to be like this wild and crazy outgoing extrovert to be a speaker. Not at all.
When you say wild and crazy I like to think of Steve Martin and who is that other guy from Saturday Night Live where they are like, “We are the wild and crazy guys.” You don’t have to be that type of guy to be a speaker.
Kind of wrapping up here, are there any last minute tips you have for someone who says, “You know what, I want to get into this. I want to get paid to speak.” Any last tips that you have for them?
I think it’s always important to remember, and this isn’t just true with speaking, this is true with anything. Everybody starts at zero. Nobody gets a special leg up. Nobody gets a fast forward button. It’s easy to look at maybe my career of speaking to over 400 paid speaking engagements or 350,000 people that I have spoken to live. That doesn’t happen overnight. You start with one. You look at people that are successful bloggers or successful pod-casters or successful employees and they didn’t get there overnight. Realize that you have to stop comparing yourself to where someone is at.
Sometimes we look at this A to Z spectrum and we look at people where they are at. They are at Z. That is the sexy part. They are on the mountain top. That’s the cool part. That’s where I want to be but they didn’t arrive there. They started at A. Don’t look at what they did to go from Y to Z. Look at what they did to go from A to B and learn from some of those early steps. Ultimately it comes down to taking action, just doing something because you can read, you can study, you can learn all the different things you need to know but if you don’t take action with it than it doesn’t matter. Some point you have to actually do something with what you know.
I couldn’t agree with you more. If people want to connect with you, they want to find out more about what you are up to today, where can they find you?
Yeah if people are interesting in speaking, definitely I encourage them to check out that free email course. Again that’s over at bookedandpaidtospeak.com. We have a host of podcast called How Did You Get Into That? People can find on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcast. Our website and blog is grantbaldwin.com.
All right awesome. I will make sure to link to those in the show note and thank you so much for being on the show.
Totally my pleasure. Thanks for letting me hang out with you.