Since I live in Singapore and speak
throughout Asia Pacific, speakers frequently write and ask if I can get
them work. My question is “Why?” If they’re
having trouble getting local work, why do
they think it will be easier or smarter to get
work halfway around the world?
Speaking internationally has its advantages, but it’s not for everyone. It’s easy to
get caught up in the allure of exotic destinations, but international travel is exhausting
as well as exhilarating. Before you seek to
develop a speaking business on a worldwide arena, it makes sense to ask yourself if
this type of business matches your lifestyle
and business goals.
If you choose to pursue international
work, remember to be realistic that travel
time is down time, the physical challenges
involved and the opportunity costs of
missed work back home.
Based on my full-time experience over
the past 25 years in this business, the number-one mistake I see even experienced
speakers make is not the most obvious, like
poor platform skills. The number-one problem for speakers is setting goals and establishing business plans that are inconsistent
with our prime values in life. Sound too simple for you or just plain wrong?
Some speakers proclaim family is number
one and then set up a high-fee keynote business that takes them on the road 200 days a
year for 120 keynotes and they barely see
their families. They earn “rich” but live “poor.”
Some speakers claim they want to make
a difference or change the world; yet many
target non-influential people in un-influen-tial markets. Some speakers say they want
to stop marketing and seek bureau business, courting and romancing bureaus.
Then, when they get a chance to book
engagements directly, they do so rather
than pass the contract on to a bureau.
Inconsistency between values and marketing plans—whatever the source—leads
to a lack of fulfilment in life.
For brevity, let’s just look at your life and
the speaking business. What kind of life and
lifestyle do you want? Do you want to be
alone and live on the road? No problem.
Set yourself up with high-paid keynote work
in front of large audiences. Tons of opportunities. Heaps of money. Millions of miles in
the air. If this type of lifestyle appeals to you,
international business can be both exciting
If you want to live with your family and
sleep in your own bed at night, international work may not be for you. If your values lead you to active involvement in your
home and family, choose to live in a community of 2 million people within an hour’s
drive. Do more workshops and training on
a variety of subjects. You may not make as
much per engagement, but you can fill a
calendar with local work.
If you are single, or if your kids are grown
and you and your spouse want to travel
while you work, focus on the locations where
you want to visit. Work with event organizers,
convention bureaus, CMPs and MNCs
based in the locales you want to travel to for
enjoyment. It takes time to build these rela-
tionships but if you are an established
speaker, you can take the time to fly to your
destinations of choice for a week’s visit and
meet target prospects face-to-face.
NSA Past President Scott Friedman, CSP,
works in Asia four to five times a year. He is
a single man and really enjoys the five-star
treatment he receives. The local market
loves his sense of humor and he is featured
on Singapore radio and television more
than I am—and I live here. This makes
sense for him. For a parent with young children, the special treatment Scott enjoys
might come as an unacceptable cost.
Our marketing plan in Asia has me sleeping 330 nights in my own bed, on-stage 90
to 105 times a year, flying business or first
class on 90 percent of the flights and staying
in four- or five-star hotels. At the end of the
year, we add six figures to our investment
portfolio and I enjoy spending one to two
hours a day with our two young children. For
us, this marketing plan makes sense.
Before working any longer on a marketing
plan, take a good, long look at what you
really want in life. While you might make a
lot of money on the wrong plan, you’ll end
up rich but emotionally bankrupt. Better to
die really happy than filthy rich.
Michael A. Podolinsky
is a master at executive development. He
develops people who
teaching them how
and where to focus
for success. Working with audiences from
four to 4,500 people across six continents
in 25 countries, he’s reached more than
11 million people worldwide. He resides in
Singapore and was a charter member of
the Association for Professional Speakers-Singapore.