My business & life changed when I left my job at the speakers’ bureau, because it was do-or-die. Instead of following the traditional bureau model, I joined forces with two thought leaders to work together independently, to help them grow the speaking part of their business.
In one year of collaboration, we doubled their annual speaking revenue — from $200K to $400K. Since our contract ended, they’ve only done a fraction of the business that they did when we were working together, and then I recognized the wisdom behind the Chinese proverb:
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
I needed to teach people to fish, not do the fishing for them.
The bureau owner once freaked out because my blog was sharing some industry insights to help new speakers get their legs under them and position them for growth. He accused me of giving away “trade secrets” on my blog. (Which I wasn’t.)
That made me realize this: He felt totally threatened because the bureau model relies on a commonly-believed assumption that speakers need bureaus to “make it.” (They don’t.) Another lie bureaus want people to believe is that clients need to go through a bureau to book a speaker. (They don’t.)
His entire business model was going the way of the dodo, and he was scared as hell of people who could see that happening already (like me), and who were ready and willing to help those who are committed to helping themselves. He was stuck in scarcity thinking.
Speakers get booked the same way artists get booked for gigs, and I’d worked booking artists for almost 7 years BEFORE I started booking speakers. So there were NO “trade secrets” that I’d learned from the bureau, anyway, even if I did want to spill them all. I’d learned everything I know in my previous role at a talent buying company, working with my industry mentor, who passed away almost 4 years ago.
My commitment now is to empower emerging thought leaders and new speakers so they believe they CAN do this on their own, and IF they want to work with an agent down the road, it’s a matter of choice, not necessity, on their path to success.