1:1 Confidential Advisory
For an insider’s view on the business of speaking I offer two ways to connect:
1) Gratis consultations: Monthly, I set aside time on a specific day to do gratis consultation conversations, 15 min each. These spots typically fill up a month or two in advance, so if you would like to have an initial chat about your most compelling challenge with regard to paid speaking, please reach out to Jessica, my assistant, as soon as possible. She’s reachable at Jessica@NewLeafSpeakers.com and she can get you on my calendar.
2) 1:1 advisory video-conference sessions: These sessions are one hour long and are scheduled on a more time-sensitive basis. The fee is listed just under my signature below. It does require a significant investment on your part, however you’ll have my 27+ years of experience in this field at your disposal in our conversation.
So, which one should you opt for? I’m glad you asked. In a world that chops up complex information, chews it into sound bites and spits it out in single paragraphs, I’m skewing far to the other side. I want you to understand the context for my services and how I can be helpful. Then, you make the decision on whether you’d like to have a virtual ‘coffee’ with me in a gratis consult or advisory session.
Sound good? Great. Let’s get going. I didn’t acquire my knowledge by working my way up through a traditional speaker bureau or agency. Nope. I essentially dropped into speaker management 17 years ago as a happy accident via a favor for a friend. He wrote a highly anticipated book but didn’t want to go around the country delivering free speeches to promote it. I phoned into his meeting with his NYC book editor as his ‘agent’ to negotiate how many speeches he’d do gratis and which ones would need to be paid. I survived that meeting. Barely. And a new career (and company) was born. I learned most of what I know in this business from similar painful trial and error situations, successes earned along the way and by not being limited to ‘the way things have always been done.’ I didn’t know how they’d been done, so I looked at what was needed and created a solution without knowing about the ‘old’ model.
Before moving to the ‘dark side’ and representing clients, I spent a decade as a large scale event producer responsible for spotting trends, creating ‘for-profit’ conferences and hiring speakers to fill my agendas. I know how event planners feel because I spent a decade in their shoes. I know how they feel about working with speakers with professional representation. (READ: It is typically a PAIN in the B*TT). In 2001, I founded New Leaf as professional management for “category of one” clients. On average, those clients receive $40,000 – $200,000+ per appearance. Many started their work with New Leaf when their fee was $0 to $20,000 and over the intervening years, we’ve grown their fee significantly, crafted a custom-fit strategy for either increasing the number of speaking invitations or thoughtfully filtering opportunities and ensuring they only accept invitations that light them up.
But, to spin gold, I have learned that I must start with the right raw materials….
New Leaf Speaker Management was created to advise incredibly powerful & deeply good human beings on their speaking work and to represent them in negotiations. They must be both for us to be effective for them. One quality without the other leads things to go off-kilter and we’ve learned that this profile is truly our ‘sweet spot.’ We find that two categories of individuals fit the ‘powerful’ mold: Highly influential individuals and high potential individuals.
The High Potential Candidate: These candidates need credible and swift amplification of their message. They currently lack ‘reach’ and name recognition – but have compelling, business-applicable content that is detailed in a recent book they’ve written, a lauded TED talk, or developed from their incredible business success story. Our work allows the candidate to quickly reach the broader marketplace of ALL agencies and bureaus, vs. being exclusive with just one – and receive our guidance and our speaking industry savvy all along the way. We have excellent rapport with all the top speaker bureaus and speaker agencies and our network of more than 300 agents around the globe trust us to introduce them to speakers with spectacular content who are the up & comers. New Leaf offers ‘high potentials’ a tremendous springboard to go from ‘Who is she?’ to ‘We must have her at our event.’ Ultimately, the market determines demand– but we know what the market is looking for, and what it is not. We know what fee to set and when to raise or lower it. We know which agencies and bureaus are rock solid, which should be cautiously dealt with and which ones we wouldn’t ever work with again and why. Our clients consider offers from all sources and receive our private pro’s and con’s and a recommendation on each offer we negotiate. We know what presentation topics and book angles will command significant fees in the marketplace. We know what topics will never command significant speaking fees. We are the rocket fuel to launch select High Potentials into the other category of client we work with……..
The Influential Individual – the “Category of One”: For influential individuals, generating demand is not the core challenge – in fact, it is quite the opposite. They need a savvy team that knows their distinct preferences, sweet spots of expertise and where speaking invitations fall on the continuum of their priorities. Protection of their time is essential and their inquiries must be handled in a calm, capable and kind manner. Their personal brand, derived from years of hard work, is vital and the treatment of every single person who inquires about them is important. Because time is scarce and they are typically not a professional speaker — we get to know this client inside and out and find out what ‘lights them up.’ We then thoughtfully channel the tsunami of in-bound demand through that carefully crafted filter unique to our client. There’s more we do, but I have to leave a little mystery in the equation.
I’m nice – in an industry not known for ‘nice.’ I’m direct, but kind. Kindness does not mean naive or ineffective. In fact, I believe that the opposite is true. Being KIND is the secret ingredient that makes us good at what we do. It takes more time to be kind vs. abrupt, but for me, it is an essential part of how we operate as individuals and as a business. I want to help every single person who reaches out to me for advice. I’m writing a book about the work I do in the hopes that it will empower individuals to confidently manage their own speaking work or create an army of highly qualified speaker management spin-offs, so that the available pool of talent speaker management businesses can grow to meet market demand.
My team and I work directly with event hosts and all the top speaker bureaus and agencies in the world. In 2018, we negotiated, globally, more than $7,000,0000 in annual bookings for our five clients under management. We continuously cultivate our network of more than 300 individual agents at speaker bureaus and agencies all over the world. We also work directly with event hosts to handle all in-bound inquiries for our clients.
In short, like the ad for Farmer’s Insurance – We know a thing or two, because we’ve seen a thing or two — and we adore the work we do.
Do you see your core challenge on this list? If so, I can offer you information that will be immediately helpful. It may not be what you want to hear, but likely needs to be said. I will be transparent, tactful and warm, yet also candid and direct.
- BRAND EXTENSION INTO PAID SPEAKING
You are a successful ___________(insert your chosen moniker here – author, actor, artist, rock-star, entrepreneur, TED speaker, politician, public figure) and receive frequent invitations to do speaking appearances….and would like to accept carefully screened invitations that will further your personal and professional initiatives, while not running you ragged
You are just getting started with paid speaking and do not yet have professional representation, but are hoping to find someone who will add you to their roster
- SEEKING MORE PAID APPEARANCES AND/OR BIGGER FEES
Agencies, bureaus and/or event hosts hired you to do some paid speaking and you’ve caught the bug for it…and want to do more of it….and earn more per appearance. Please see my note about the biggest misconception with regard to representation, below.
- BOOK BEING PUBLISHED
You are in the process of writing a book that will come out in the next 6-12 months and would like to get your ducks in a row so that if the book generates speaking inquiries, you’ll be ready
- THINKING OF BRINGING YOUR SPEAKING BUSINESS ‘IN-HOUSE’
You are represented by an agency or bureau or management company and feel a bit too removed from the actual conversations that shape the offers – yet you don’t have the bandwidth or speaking industry savvy to properly manage representation in-house
- BREAKING INTO UNITED STATES MARKET FOR SPEAKING
You are based outside the USA, or are here as a non-citizen, want to tap into the lucrative speaking market in the US and don’t know how to get started
- DISILLUSIONED WITH PRIOR REPRESENTATION
After a less than stellar experience with a speakers bureau or speakers agency (New Leaf is neither!), you are wondering what went wrong and where to go next
- OVERWHELMED BY SELF-MANAGING YOUR SPEAKING INQUIRIES
You and/or your staff currently manage your speaking inquiries and are feeling overrun with the workload and would love to know about other options.CAVEAT: Unless you currently have …..
- an average speaking fee at the $7,500 – $10,000 level
- a polished and truly compelling full length speech (45-60 minutes) that offers actionable, insightful content to your audience
- a full length, professionally filmed delivery of your speech in front of a live audience (not a highlight reel full of 3 second clips)
- a steady stream of in-bound inquiries from event hosts
- speaker bureaus knocking on your door
- written the next business best-seller, teach at one of the world’s top business schools, delivered this year’s hottest new TED talk and/or have a mega career launched in your core industry (music, sports, film, business, art, politics, etc)
- and you know…..
- WHY you want to stand up in front of an audience and share what you know in a candid, helpful, meaningful way, AND
- WHAT you bring to the table as the best person to deliver that knowledge
it is very unlikely that a speaker management firm, speakers bureau or speakers agency will be effective in managing your speaking work. They may want to work with you – you may have loads of potential – but you are just not ready yet. It’s like asking to be hired as a professional race car driver when you haven’t gone to Drivers Education, you don’t have a race car or sponsors and you’ve never done a lap around a track. To approach professional representation before you have nailed down the items above would be an exercise in frustration. When you’ve achieved these things, professional representation will seek you out. And when they do, you will be ready…..and the expanded reach and exposure they provide to launch you from $20,000 – $25,000 per speech to higher and higher fees and more invitations from a global network of event hosts will be invaluable to you. Or, you may be perfectly happy to keep representing yourself at that point. The main thing is that you will be in the driver’s seat (pun TOTALLY intended).
To get to there, you will need to roll up your sleeves, broaden your name recognition in your chosen field, possibly hire an assistant and boot-strap your way until the level of in-bound demand for paid speaking catapults you up to this fee level – and this is just the bare bones entry point for professional representation to become involved. I am not trying to discourage you, I promise – yet what I’m saying is the reality of paid speaking.
This is not the path for the faint of heart, the dabblers, or those who want to hire someone to do all the heavy lifting for them and sit back to collect giant paychecks.
This is the path for those who want to drive the world forward. It is the path of heroes. It is the path of warriors and wise souls. It is the path of activists, activators and inspirational giants. It is a supremely powerful platform from which you can shape the world.
So, if you are in the latter camp, let’s talk. I can help.
I thrive on helping others and would be delighted to be of assistance to you. If you are intrigued, please drop my assistant a line at Jessica@newleafspeakers.com and we’ll get this party started.
I offer three, hour-long advisory sessions each month. If you’d like to book one, here’s how it works:
- Each dedicated hour-long video-conference session (via Zoom! or SKYPE, your choice) is a $1,000 investment, paid in advance. If you are in the Boston / North Shore of MA area, we can meet in person somewhere in the middle between our two locations. If you are outside that area, the video-conference makes it feel like we are having an in-person meeting, which is far better than just a phone call.
- Reach out to Jessica to set up a time and date for our session. She will ask Michael on our team to generate an invoice for you to pay via wire transfer, Venmo, or electronic check.
- Once your payment is received, Jessica will coordinate a mutually convenient time for us to spend 60 minutes on a video conference call together. At your discretion, you can have one other person in the room with you, on the video-conference, too, to take notes and allow you to direct your full attention to the conversation.
- Come to the call prepared to share a lot about YOU – what makes you tick, your strengths, your weaknesses, your current situation with with regard to speaking. Because your time is precious, please also bring a prioritized list of your top 5 questions with regard to your speaking work so we can jump into that list. We may not get to all of them – so let’s start with your most pressing question first. Your questions will likely prompt questions from me and I will offer my best advice, without any objective beyond helping you think about your next steps. All of the details you share will be kept strictly confidential within New Leaf.
- I don’t review supporting information in advance unless you would like to also pre-pay for ‘supporting materials review’ time (your website, your book, your LinkedIn profile, your social media accounts). If you feel additional context is needed prior to our conversation, advance review time (which can be capped to a specific duration to allow you to properly budget for it) is prepaid at $500 per hour. I don’t think we’ll need it to have a highly productive first session – but if you feel strongly otherwise, just let Jessica know how much advance review time you’d like to secure and she can have Michael add it to your invoice. Advance preparation time is highly limited on my part, especially if you’ve booked a video-session on rather short notice – but I will let you know up-front if the time you need from me is not available.
The Biggest Misconception About Representation: AKA: This is the Easter egg hidden in this page.
If you’ve read this far, KEEP READING. This is the stuff that most people in this industry will not tell you. I’m going to save you a lot of time, energy and frustration. So, please read on.
Most people think that the primary job of a speaker management company, speaker bureau and/or speaker agency is to find paid speech bookings for them. They think it is the agent’s job to connect their speaker clients to as many opportunities as possible by ‘selling’ event hosts on how incredible their speaker client is. That is not what happens. In fact, ‘pushing’ speakers into the market, trying to create demand by cold-calling hosts is just about the WORST way to get anyone paid bookings. I know. I’ve tried it. Several times. And each time? FAILURE. Event hosts are skeptical about someone reaching out to introduce them to a speaker and especially suspicious if the person is seeking a high speaking fee for that person. No one likes to be ‘sold.’ They want to feel that finding the speaker was their idea, their choice. They want to read a phenomenal book and secure the author to speak. They’ll watch an incredible biographic movie and hire the person profiled to deliver an inspirational keynote. They’ll see a phenomenal TED talk and invite that speaker to keynote their conference. They’ll read an article with a 10,000 shares online and feature that author on a panel about that very topic. If you aren’t getting visibility with the people who need your expertise, you will have a tough time getting invited to speak at all.
VISIBILITY + compelling content that is needed by the marketplace + excellent delivery + a well-written book on that very topic = inbound speaking inquiries. Add in
- a polished website that contains all the details an event host could want – including
- a high resolution photo or two that can be used to promote your appearances
- a tightly focused / benefit-oriented presentation title
- session description (that springs naturally from your book)
- a relevant biography plus
- a sample of a live, full length speech with high production value (not just a highlight reel with a dizzying array of clips).
Trying to line up an agent without having these things in place is absolutely a recipe for rejection.
Agents do not sell individual speakers. They aren’t interested in representing most speakers until those speakers are sought after by event hosts. Most agents – notably the ones at bureaus and agencies – serve the needs of event hosts. If the host wants a specific person, the agent makes it happen. They find out who represents that person and they make inquiries.
It was possible in the early days of the industry, to ‘push’ some speakers — especially when knowledge of how to reach powerful people was mysterious and rare. And finding out accurate information on a speaker was limited to what the agent told you and perhaps some LexisNexis search results. The number of people who made themselves available for speaking was drastically smaller than it is today. Even as late as 2000, pounding the phone lines, doing hundreds of cold calls to reach event hosts and build rapport WORKED to get bookings for speakers. Fewer events, bigger budgets, fewer speakers on the circuit meant more speaking fees for individual speakers.
ENTER: THE INTERNET
And everything changed. Things got noisy and the volume gets louder by the day. It is hard to separate the signal from the noise. Experts from all walks of life hang out their ‘shingle’ on the internet to see who will respond. The array of options for event hosts has exploded – and the number of events has increased. Rather than just offering an annual national conference, many hosts opt to divide their budgets into smaller, more frequent, regional events. A steady stream of niche events pop up all the time and successful business execs, authors, and verified influencers on Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter are in demand. This has created an overabundance of speakers flooding the market — so speaker supply is WAY up. As a natural result: Fees go down.
Many speakers speak for FREE just to build up their name recognition and build their brand. Conference producers have slashed their budgets for paid speakers and rely in many cases on those who speak, gratis, because that speaker has a salaried gig at a high profile company or is hoping their appearance will translate into future paid consulting projects.
For those who must be paid to speak, the available pool of opportunities is very small and competition is fierce. And for the hosts who do have budgets to spend on speakers: They have a zillion options on who to spend their money on – and they will always pick the person who:
-Puts butts in seats at their public, ticketed event
-Draws sponsors to pay a hefty price tag for association with their event
-Draws high profile media attention to their company, event, product or service
Therefore, unless your credentials and experience show that you are a proven draw in any of those areas, getting paid — and beyond that, getting $25,000+ per speech– is literally a moonshot chance. Event hosts pay for name recognition, a proven speaker ‘brand’ with clout.
For anyone not yet known in their industry: The challenge is to get known. Known for proven, dependable, interesting, useful knowledge that motivates audience members to DO something. Your delivery needs to be incredible – DO NOT WING IT. I don’t care how ‘off the cuff’ you are in most areas of your life, or how much you enjoy flying by the seat of your pants in an adrenaline rush. If you are being paid, and especially if you are being paid big dollars, prepare. Give them your absolute best— and for the love of all that is holy: End your presentation on time. Be a professional and ‘STICK’ the landing.
Demand for paid speaking today comes from offering something that the marketplace deems valuable — and building a following that wants to hear from you. Simple to say, not so easy to do. I can help you spot where your highest demand is likely to come from – based on learning about your current ‘reach,’ your accomplishments, your writing, your unique angle on what you’d like to talk about. If you don’t have a book written on your core area of expertise, you must get that book written. In the course of our conversation, if I think you could be a good match for the representation services we offer, I will tell you outright. Then, you can decide what your next step will be. But please don’t be discouraged if I don’t think we’d be a good fit for representation services. Less than .01% of all speakers need what we do. But don’t worry- what I know can still be vitally helpful to you. Think of our conversation as a valuable stepping stone in your speaking career and a solid investment in your personal brand.
Hope to chat with you. If you read this and thought: ‘How refreshing- someone who wants to help, has the knowledge and who I can pay by the hour to get me going on a productive track. I’ve gotta talk to her! – trust your gut and reach out.