A few years back I became aware that there was a “Speaker’s Circuit” for HR people. The more I became aware of it, the more it sounded like a wonderful place to be. You have done everything in your career and now you are being paid hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars to travel the world and…..speak.
I later noticed many industries (i.e., sales, marketing, technology) had their own version of a “Speaker’s Circuit” and because my job required me to interact with and recruit with these speakers I got to know these speakers really well.
Like anyone, many of these speakers had some skeletons in their closet but I noticed a core breed of the good speakers had one thing in common: they can’t hold a job, or rarely do their job. Sure, they can speak and ignite an audience about all their cutting edge ideas and philosophies in life, but I wasn’t seeing much work happening.
Here is the deal. You see the speakers in your industry. Every industry seems to have them. Even the coffee industry. I often wonder how many speakers on the circuit are actual ballers and good at what they do or just good speakers trying to get likes on social media. I think the people who are getting shit done are too busy to speak at events and travel the world. There are so many people out there who are low key and do incredibly well at their profession. They are not trying to be “thought leaders” or “influencers” – they are not on a speaking circuit and probably have no idea a speaking circuit exists.
The next time you are at a conference and wonder if the speaker is a baller at their job or just a speaker seeking fame, ponder these questions:
Do they have a job? If you are the speaker, do you have a job?
If they have a job, will anyone from that job come watch them speak? Will they vouch for their skills, or not bother to listen to them speak?
After they speak, do they go back to doing their job? It seems like the real ballers would be too busy to take selfies and sign autographs after their speech because they have work to do.
I run a podcast (HT Secret Tech Sauce Podcast with Ben Martinez) and struggle with finding guests to know if they are ballers or fame-seeking speakers. Speakers can speak. Ballers can speak and work like a baller. Listen often, work more, speak a little, then get back to work.