Later, when Steve was fresh out of college, he worked for
an audiovisual company that set up the sound system for a
speaker named Mark Scharenbroich, CSP, CPAE. Steve was
already developing a traveling science show, but after seeing
Mark, he knew he had to step up his game. He decided to
focus on the elementary-school market where he could speak
multiple times a week and hone his craft.
Then, during a chance encounter with a teacher at one
assembly, Steve realized that teachers needed these types of
skills to better engage their students. And when he found that
several school districts wanted professional
development for their teachers, he created
one of the first STEM (science, technology,
engineering, mathematics) institutes for educators.
Finally, in the early 2000s, he recognized the
potential of online video. His do-it-yourself videos on
YouTube led to millions of views, requests to appear
on network television shows, and ultimately, his own
series on Fox.
So, the question is, are you paying attention to your
customers and your market? Or are you so focused on
creating content that you’re not seeing new opportunities to take your work to a new place? Steve has always
paid attention. And when he saw a need, he developed
a way to meet it.
MEET THE NEED (AKA RESPOND)
One of the challenges of running a speaking business is
doing the research, developing the programs, and creating the products. All of this behind-the-scenes work is not
nearly as glamorous as being onstage. And unfortunately,
this is why many new speakers leave NSA after their first
year. They realize how hard it is to do the work.
Steve Spangler does the work. When you see thousands of film canisters explode on The Ellen DeGeneres
Show or watch him masterfully emcee the CPAE
Speaker Hall of Fame® banquet, you realize the work
One can’t imagine Steve ever saying, “That’s too
hard” or “We can’t do that.”
Instead, he just does the work.
Early in his career, Steve built and packaged (in
zip-locked bags) hands-on science kits in the basement
of his home. He saw that teachers needed materials to
enhance their curricula, so he and his wife, Renee, did
the work to meet that need.
Steve’s career could read like the instruc- tions on a shampoo bottle but instead of “lather-rinse-repeat,” his would say, “See a need-meet it-repeat.” And it’s no
coincidence that this approach is similar to the scientific
method. Steve has successfully applied this formula to his
content, his products, and his business.
SEE A NEED (AKA PAY ATTENTION)
You may think of Steve as an engaging speaker, a television
personality, or a humorist with a nerdy science slant. But
when you peel away these accurate but incomplete labels,
you’ll find an astute student who simply pays attention.
For example, when he was young, his father confessed that he hated his job as a corporate executive.
Steve’s mother suggested that his father quit. And so,
he did. But without a plan to replace his income, they
decided to do what most of us would do—teach magic
to magicians! OK, maybe that’s not what you would do,
but Steve’s father was an acclaimed magician and it was
a way to pursue something he loved. During this transition, Steve watched his parents build a business and
teach stage performance. And he has continued paying
attention throughout his career.
WHAT TO WATCH
To see Steve in action
doing fun demos and
experiments, visit his
You Tube channel at