Jane Atkinson is known as Speaker Launcher in the world of speaking professionals. She’s been helping speakers catapult their careers for more than 20 years – first as an agent; then as the Vice President of a Speakers Bureau in Dallas; and for the past decade, as a coach and consultant. Jane is a strong believer in creating your perfect lifestyle business.
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Worst Entrepreneur Moment
- Jane gave a talk in a room that was more literally than figuratively on FIRE. Listen to how she coped. (Hint: Horribly at first…)
Entrepreneur AH-HA Moment
- Jen had a lighting bolt of a thought strike her… ‘I’m playing small in life.‘ That thought has propelled her to GREAT things!
Small Business Resource
- Win Streak: Take charge. Start a new habit. Get on a WinStreak.
Best Business Book
Ms. Atkinson: – I am.
Interviewer: Yes. Jane is known as Speaker Launcher in the world of speaking professionals. She's been helping speakers catapult their careers for more than 20 years, first as an agent and then as a vice president of the Speakers Bureau in Dallas, and for the past decade as a coach and consultant. Jane is a strong believer in creating your perfect lifestyle business. Jane, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro and give us a little glimpse into your personal life.
Ms. Atkinson: What I think it doesn't really say is kind of how I spend my days now, which is typically, maybe like you, on the phone or Skype talking to people, couching them, really helping them accelerate their business in the world of professional speakers. So I love what I do, and I think maybe that's the part that I would say is missing. It's just something that – there have been times over the years where I've been like should I step outside of this profession? Where would I go? What would I do? And I've written books in a topic that was completely out of line, and I've come back to this because this is what I'm really passionate about.
Interviewer: Now, we chatted about a little bit of snow that you're currently experiencing in Canada, so give us a little glimpse of your personal life.
Ms. Atkinson: Well, I got married about eight or nine years ago and the, the day I got married, which was my first marriage at 42 years old, I also became a grandma, so we called that child, who's eight – we joke that he was ten years premature, our daughter was in college at the time when that occurred, and we've just had our second, so we have a boy and a girl now and our little family is growing. And I just – I don't know how much you believe in kind of the power of visualization in coaching, but we had mapped out – I had a coach when I lived in Dallas, probably about 15 years ago, a gentleman named Rich Fettke, from California helped me map out what I wanted my life to look like and everything has come true.
Ms. Atkinson: It's just so phenomenal to me that I'm kind of living exactly the life that I had set out for myself. And do I have more goals? Absolutely. Have I got some place to go between you know I I'd like to be ultimately? Absolutely. But I'm pretty darn excited, I must say.
Interviewer: Now, Jane, one thing that you did at the beginning of this interview and actually was specifically during our pre-interview chat is you asked about the audience and you asked about Fire Nation, and I love that, and I gave you some in depth about it, you know, that we are entrepreneurs, small business owners, people who have already made that leap and are had charging forward, others who haven't quite made that leap yet, I know who you are, you're listening as you're driving to work saying, when can I do what Jane's doing, or what John's doing or one of my past, you know 1160 guests have done and that's awesome and that's you Fire Nation, and we love you for that.
But Jane, I love at this point of the interview to talk about revenue because we're looking as entrepreneurs to create viable business, so what are the different ways that you generate revenue in your business today?
Ms. Atkinson: Okay, well, the entry point for most people to kind of get to know me and usually one of my two books. I wrote one book called: The Wealthy Speaker which has a 2.0 version now, The Wealthy Speaker 2.0, and that's all, you know, kind of current information. As well as The Epic Keynote presentation skills and styles of wealthy speakers. So those go nicely together, and that's usually how people start to understand, you know, oh, okay, this is an interesting world, and, and The Wealthy Speaker kind of opens up the word for people who are thinking about adding speaking to their repoire or becoming a "professional speaker".
So once they've been there they kind of go, okay, Jane, well, what can I do with next? And we take them into either one of two paths, one would be online training, we have a 16-week course that we do online. It's line of a hybrid, both online and there are some group calls that we do as we go that. Or they come through VIP private coaching. That's typically people who are little more advanced. And then both of those groups come back together again in my Wealthy Speaker community and the events that revolve around that. So there's kind of a series of steps and different revenues streams that I have going on.
Interviewer: And what's critical Fire Nation, is as I'm hearing Jane talk about this, I'm seeing how these revenue streams grew on top of each other. You don't need to have all of these from day one. They grow as you continue to put content out and you see, okay. This is working; let me add to that, okay. This isn't working, let me go in the different direction and before you know it you have revenue streams right there in front of you. Is that what happened with you, Jane?
Ms. Atkinson: This is like 12 years of try this, no, that didn't work. Try this, no, that didn't work. You know, hitting roadblocks, going around, going up, going down, you know, that's 12 years of figuring it out to get to where we want to go. And I would say that there have been different flashpoints, we call them flashpoints, where we kind of going turbo charged for a little while. And one of the bigger flashpoints was when I wrote the book. That was just a tremendous help in terms of getting all of my ideas down on the page. I had done pretty much strictly coaching up until then, and I thought to myself, hum, kind of trading a lot of time for money here, how do I leverage my time, and so that was the result of the book and the first big flashpoint.
Interviewer: Fire Nation, we don't know when these flashpoints are going to happen. They happen when we consistently put out content and we learn from our audience and we listen to them and then it happens and we're listening still so that we see that it happens and then we take action to amply that. Now, Jane, you're entrepreneurial journey has taken you from the deserts, the dry hot deserts of Dallas to the snowy wastelands of London, Ontario, Canada, and everywhere in between, you've had your ups and your downs. I want to talk right now, not just about the downs, but about what you consider your worst entrepreneurial moment to date. So Jane, take us to that moment in time and tell us that story.
Ms. Atkinson: Well, I have to tell you I had a lot of, a lot to choose from, and so I'm going to give you one that's kind of recent. So last summer I was going to speak at the big convention, the very first NSA convention that I ever went to that's the National Speakers Association, had been 20 years earlier in Washington DC and I was going back as a speaker 20 years later. And I just piled the pressure on myself for this speech to be the most important engagement of my life. And I had a couple of partners in the speech that were going to be there with me and we weren't exactly on the same page in terms of what we wanted the outcomes of the speech to be and we had a hugely diverse audience.
We had at least 25 people in the room who had been speaking for more than 30 years and then we had, you know, hundreds of speakers who were somewhere between zero and maybe ten or 15 years, and so a huge, huge cross session and trying to be all things to all people. So we get into the room that day, the organizers added an extra hundred chairs without telling us so we didn't have a hundred handouts for people. The room was so, so, so very hot. People were angry it was so hot. And there were these massive pillars in the room. And I felt like I was on the hot seat like I had never been on the hot sit literally before.
Interviewer: Like this is entrepreneurial on fire, but that was like conference on fire literally.
Ms. Atkinson: Conference of fire, literally, in this room. I mean people were – first they started complaining about the pillars – like and during the session and then it was, and this conference isn't, you know, accessible enough for people with handicaps, and then it just like was [inaudible] [11:30:11].
Interviewer: Snowballed, yeah.
Ms. Atkinson: What just happened there?
Interviewer: As soon as people can complain about one thing, like it just opens the door.
Ms. Atkinson: Yeah, and I thought that this was a really, really, really rough go for me. And inside I was just thinking, oh my gosh, you know, I'm not really enjoying myself very much right now. But do you want to hear something funny?
Ms. Atkinson: I – so a few weeks went by after that presentation, felt a little sick to my stomach every time I thought about it, but people during the conference had come up and, oh my gosh, I saw your session, it was so good, I took pages of notes and blah, blah, blah. And Victoria Labalme, who's an amazing speech coach, sat down with me afterwards and said, "Jane, I have three pages of notes here. I just want you to know that." And she kind of talked me down from the ledge a little bit.
And so three-weeks went by and I was starting to settle down about the whole situation and I got an email from the head of, the executive director of the whole association and he said, "Jane, we heard such great things about your presentation, would you mind if we sent out the recording to everybody?" The whole, the whole association. And I said, "Well, you better let me listen to it first." Because I wanted to see if it was as bad as I thought it was and you know what, I listened back and it was fine. There was nothing wrong with it.
All of these things that were happening were going on in my own mind, and so a big, big, big lesson in terms of putting pressure on myself. Big lesson in terms of knowing exactly who my market is in that room, even if I have a bunch of different people. There were several really big ah-ah moments that came from that particular one, but I just learned tremendously from that. It was just such a growing experience, and humbling as well.
Interviewer: Fire Nation for weeks and weeks and weeks Jane was beating herself up over that. She was feeling sick to her stomach when she would think about that past conference and the heat and the complaints and pillars and everything in between, she just couldn't get over it, and think about just the barriers that she was putting in place for content, production – that, during those weeks, like she wasn't able to definitely be her best self. You know, she's losing confidence, she's doubting her abilities, all these different things and it was all in her own head.
I mean when finally someone said, Jane, like you were good, and like she listened back to it and she realized she was, we do this over and over and over again, Fire Nation. You know we invent these things about ourselves and we, you know, make up and conger these bad scenarios, and there's a reason for this, like it's very scientifically proven that we always jump to worst case scenario. Why? Because that's how we survive. It's much better to just assume there's a saber-tooth tiger around the corner than to assume that there's a little kitten around the corner because if it ends being a kitten, guess what, we're okay, but if it ends up being a saber-tooth tiger and we were expecting a kitten, guess what, we're are dead.
So that's human instinct, we assume the worst, and we have to get out of our heads in this scenario in 2015 Fire Nation, like in 10,000 B.C. like that was good to have, but you know, in, you know, in the year that we are now 2015, 2016, whenever you're listening to this, it is not the right way to do things. The impostor syndrome is real. And Jane, you mentioned a couple ah-ah moments you had during that worst moment and the coming out of that worst moment. What I want you to do now is to go to a ah-ah moment that you've had at some point in your journey, just go to that moment, tell us that story, because now that you're are kind of getting to know Fire Nation a little bit and who we are and what we have, what's an ah-ah moment that you've had that's going to resonate with our listeners, tell us that story.
Ms. Atkinson: The reason I negotiated with myself to move back to London, Ontario, which is my home town, it's not the vast wasteland that you've painted for us, thank you very much. It's –
Interviewer: Nor is Dallas a dry hot desert either.
Ms. Atkinson: It's snowy though. A couple of days ago. But I was – we do have this river that runs through the city, it's actually called the Thames River, and I was doing my –
Interviewer: You guys are really copying London on a lot of things.
Ms. Atkinson: I know, I know.
Interviewer: Even how you pronounce Thames.
Ms. Atkinson: Stratford up the road. So I was kind of doing my little journey around the river and back to the condo where I lived and I was looking up at the houses along the river and I was really thinking about my life. And I thought, you know, at this point I had been coaching for several years. I thought, you know, I have a lot of clients who are earning, you know, in the millions and I'm playing small in my life. I am not stepping into what I am fully capable of. And I really decided in that ah-ah moment that I had to step up my game. And as I alluded to earlier in that flashpoint, one of the things that I had decided, so there were actually three things that I wanted.
I not I would like to be in a long-term relationship and I hadn't until then. I'd kissed many frogs between the time I had started dating until I was 40 years old. I wanted to have children in my life, but I didn't really necessarily think they had to come out of my body. And I wanted to have a house by the river. That would be the ultimate kind of sign that I had arrived in a place that I really wanted to be. So I went back to my little condo, and I got to work on some things, and I – one the first things I did after that moment was I wrote the first book, The Wealthy Speaker, original version, and it really was a tremendous game changer for me. And that was the beginning of kind of going check, check, check for all three of those things that I wanted in my life.
Interviewer: I love that phrase, I'm playing small in life. Fire Nation, how many of us can look in the mirror right now and say those very words and know that those words are true. And if the answer is yes, right now, No. 1 it's sad because you don't need to play small in life and believe me at the end of your journey you don't want to look back and be able to say those words with truth at the end of your journey. But on the other hand it's exciting because like Jane you can have an ah-ah moment, that yes, I am playing small in life but no, I don't have to continue to do so. I can play bigger, and this can give you that ah-ah moment to do just that and start that domino effect.
Jane didn't get all of those things all at once. She did one thing and then put one foot in front the other, and then now we're talking here we are 2015, and all of those things have now come true for her, so think about that, Fire Nation, are you playing small in life? If yes, sad, but guess what? You can take steps forward. If no, awesome keep listening, because Jane's got some value bombs coming up for us. And Jane, that was my biggest take away, what do you, in just one sentence, want to make sure Fire Nation gets from your ah-ah moment?
Ms. Atkinson: The best advice I have ever received was a friend of mine, Cheryl Cran said to me one day, "Have you ever heard that phrase," and I don't know that she gave it to me exactly the way it was intended, we think it's maybe a Tony Robbins reference, and it's something around the level of your success is directly related to the kinds of questions that you ask yourself.
Ms. Atkinson: Ask better questions. And so in that moment when I was turning 40 the question became who do I need to become? Who do I need to become to have all of these things that I want in my life? As it turned out in love I needed to become more open because I played lip service to the idea that I was ready for love, but I really wasn't. There was really a lot of kind of walls up. And so I kind of, when I set about you know, I actually wrote book about all this, I set about figuring out how to do it like a strategy, like I would in business and to take all those walls down. And who do I need to become to have that house by the river?
Well, as it turned out in order to raise my game I needed to become an author. And so that was kind of a part of the – the interesting thing is for the kid part, for the kids actually enter my life I needed to get okay with chaos.
Interviewer: That could be –
Ms. Atkinson: I think –
Interviewer: – one thing that's holding me back right now. I don't know if I'm okay with chaos. Like I kind of like the organized life that I've created here and I totally get that. So Jane, appreciate you sharing that, love that, great advice that you have. Now, if you could just break down in one sentence what is your biggest weakness as an entrepreneur?
Ms. Atkinson: I think my biggest weakness – probably a lot of people can relate to this is that I have a lack of patience. I want immediate gratification. You know we're are planning for something here in our backyard, which by the way does over look the river, and in order to find all of the things that we wanted for this kind of gazebo and outdoor room I have to wait till the spring because, guess what, you can't buy a gazebo in the fall in Canada, or the outdoor furniture. I have to be patient. That is so difficult for me to do. I want everything I want yesterday, and so patience is definitely something that I would say it's, you know, probably a strength and a weakness.
Interviewer: What is the one thing that has you more fired up today than anything else?
Ms. Atkinson: I have just developed my new Wealthy Speaker community and I am going to be doing an event that I've thought about doing for probably the last five or six years, but I've kind of been too afraid to go for it, so I'm going for it boldly, and I'm going to do a two-day event in Dallas in January which will launch my Wealthy Speaker community, and then we'll be together for a whole year after that. So I am so fired up. I am kind of like nervously anticipating and cannot wait launch, and yet at the same time you know, I'm putting a lot of money on the line and so it's a huge risk, but at the same time it's hugely exciting, which I think probably most, most times you try to go the next level. You're in this period of discomfort getting there.
Interviewer: And fortune favors the bold Fire Nation, so be bold. Now Fire Nation, we have some value bombs coming up in the lighting round, but first let's take a minute to thank our sponsors.
Jane, are you prepared for the lightening round?
Ms. Atkinson: I think so.
Interviewer: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Ms. Atkinson: Fear, I was in a safe place with a nice little company around me, some good water cooler conversations and 30 people. It was a small business, but fear of actually just leaping out on my own, that's what held me back.
Interviewer: What's a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Ms. Atkinson: Asking myself really good questions and preparing before I fire, so I have a process called ready, aim, fire, that I pretty much run everything through and I don't fire until I've gone through ready and aim.
Interviewer: Share an Internet resource like Evernotes with Fire Nation.
Ms. Atkinson: There is an app that my coach, Dan Sullivan, created, and it's called WinStreak, and it allows you to post your wins, you can do a little ping to yourself every day I, my comes up at 4:00, and says to me, what were your wins today? And I put them in and I document them and it allows me to, you know, keep the momentum moving forward.
Interviewer: If you could recommend just one book for our listeners what would it be and why?
Ms. Atkinson: Well, I'd probably be a fool not to say The Wealthy Speaker 2.0 or, or The Epic Keynote, but you know one book that I really, really like is called: Becoming A Category Of One, and a friend of mine, Joe Calloway wrote that.
Interviewer: Becoming a category of one. And of course, The Wealthy Speaker 2.0 and Fire Nation I know you love audio, so I teamed up with Audible if you haven't already you can get an amazing audio book for free at EOfirebook.com, and Jane is The Wealthy Speaker 2.0 in Audible?
Ms. Atkinson: I think it is, yeah, I'm pretty sure it is.
Interviewer: Okay. Well, Jane, this is the last question of the lightening round, but it's a dozy, imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world identical to earth, but you knew no one, you still have all the experience and knowledge you currently have, your food and shelter is taken care of, but all you have it a laptop and $500, what would you do in the next seven-days?
Ms. Atkinson: You know, I think that's the most difficult question I've ever been asked. I first, I'd go ready, aim, fire. I'd first decide, what do I want to sell because I'm a marketer and I love selling stuff. I would start to kind of build out my umbrella and plan what needs to be the entry point and what I'm going to have as a part of my business model. I'd then set up a website and I'd probably start writing madly. And, and the, with the whole idea of building a fan base around me all over again and starting with whatever the product I decided to sell would be.
Interviewer: Well, Jane, let's end today on fire, with you sharing a parting piece of guidance, the best way that we can connect with you and then we'll say, bye-bye.
Ms. Atkinson: Ensure that you have mapped out your strategy before you start communicating with your prospects about it. In my world of professional speaking that's what I see the most is that people are out firing without having taken ready – gotten ready and taken aim. So really be crystal clear on who your target market is and what value you bring to the table for them before you start firing, so that would be No. 1. And then if people would like to get in touch with me they can come over to speakerlauncher.com and actually that ready aim fire strategy is mapped out beautifully in a new three part video series that we offer to people for free on that website.
Interviewer: Fire Nation you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with and you've been hanging out with JA and JLD today, so keep up the heat and head over to EOfire.com, just type Jane in the search bar, her show note page will pop up with everything we've talked about today directly go to speaker launcher.com, if you want to check out her website that will be linked up on the shownotes page as well, as well as her books. And Jane, I just want to say thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that we salute you and we'll catch you the flip side.
Ms. Atkinson: My pleasure. Thank you so much.
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