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Feb. 14, 2023

From Youth Pastor to Professional Speaker: Achieving Success Through Hard Work and Dedication | Grant Baldwin

In this episode of the podcast, we discussed the importance of hard work and dedication when it comes to achieving success. We heard Grant Baldwin's inspiring story of how he landed his first gig and how much legwork he put in to make it happen.


In this episode of the podcast, we discussed the importance of hard work and dedication when it comes to achieving success. We heard Grant Baldwin's inspiring story of how he landed his first gig and how much legwork he put in to make it happen.


"If you don't enjoy at least 80% of what you're doing, you should find something else. And I remember just thinking like, really we can, we can do that. And I remember leaving that session and calling my wife, and we've been having some of these conversations, but I remember leaving that session, calling her and saying like, I think we're done again. I don't know what's next. But I remember leaving that session and calling her thinking like, okay, we're gonna rip the Band-aid and figure it out from there."


We explored how everyone starts from zero when trying to get that first client and how it can be challenging to stay motivated, but the first check can give you the confidence and drive to keep going. Grant is the founder and CEO of The Speaker Lab, a company that has helped thousands of people build successful and sustainable speaking businesses.


Grant's expertise and insight have been featured on the Inc. 5000 list, Forbes, Inc. Entrepreneur, and The Huffington Post. His leadership and commitment to creating a unique organizational culture are evident in his team's impact.


This episode will inspire you to never give up on your dreams. Tune in to hear more of Grant's story and his valuable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

To learn more about The Speaker lab, please visit



To listen in on more conversations about pivotal moments that changed lives forever, subscribe to "The Life Shift" on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. If you enjoyed this episode, please take a moment to rate the show 5 stars and leave a review! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


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Charting a Career Path Against the Grain and Bringing Stories to Life | Wayne Partello


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I'm Matt Gilhooly and this is the life shift. Candid conversations about the pivotal moments that changed lives forever. Hello, my friends welcome to the life shift podcast. I am here with Grant baldwin who is a founder and ceo of the speaker lab and I'm super intimidated, but thank you for being here. Nothing to be worried about my friend, I appreciate you. Let me hang out with you, that's gonna be fun. And and add to add to that intimidation factor. Grant is also a podcaster. So he's been podcasting since I think I saw January 2016, is that true? 

Yeah, so the speaker, that podcast we started in January 2016. Prior to that I did another podcast for about two years. So you have been podcasting for? Yeah, I mean back in 2004, uh 2014 or so. Um so I've been doing it for a minute, but it's a great, it's a great medium. 

I listened to a ton of podcasts, uh host of podcast, been on a bunch of interviews. So I'm all about podcasting. Same eye as I was telling you before we started recording. 

I'm I'm pretty new in this space have been releasing weekly since March, but when I was listening to your 422nd episode, I was like, Wow, I can't wait to get there and hear all the stories that people come on the show and share. You know whether they're the external life shifts that happened to them or in your case, which seems to be more of an internal shift. I think my listeners are reaching out to me in the D. M. Form or in the review form of saying, I really need to hear that story today, and that's kind of my goal? And I think what you're gonna share will inspire people that are kind of like on this brink of something, but before we give away kind of what your life shift is, maybe you could paint a picture of what Grant's life was leading up to kind of this more pivotal moment in your life. 

Yeah, so if we go, uh there's one initial shift that I had even as a teenager, um and that was that my my parents got a divorce um when I was 13, 14, something like that. Um and at the time, I remember just feeling like I just didn't know anybody whose parents were divorced and I thought I was the only one, and it was like a source of shame and embarrassment. And um uh and I remember thinking, I mean, even fast forward and like to today and there, you know, I look at like some of my friends back then and friends I knew at the time whose parents are still together, I was like, man, I was at your house, like your parents are super dysfunctional, like, how are they still together? My parents didn't make it, you know? So, um uh so that was definitely a big shift, but the one year, I think you're kind of alluding to was actually how why did you, why do you think you felt shame in that just because you were the, you felt like you were the only one that I just didn't really know anybody else whose parents, you know? And I'm sure like I went to a bigger school and you know knew a ton of other kids, I just didn't know anybody else whose parents were divorced um and I knew like you know, you're over some of their houses from time to time or sleepovers or whatever and like there's some dysfunction there um and I felt like with my own parents it's kind of like yeah your parents fight because that's you know that's what parents do, but I remember um just thinking like dang I just, I never really realized it was that bad. Um So yeah, it was definitely um it was just a rough stretch, you know? It was a rough season I do think though that that has impacted um Uh life today, my marriage today my my wife and I were high school sweethearts, we started dating when I was 15. Um so we've been together for almost 26 years um and have three beautiful daughters, it's me and a house full of women, it's the absolute best. 

I absolutely love it. Um But I would say like my my wife's parents split up as well and so we both come from divorced families and like you know, that certainly sucks and wouldn't wish that on anybody, but it definitely has, I think helped and impacted our marriage going like, okay, we know what it's like to be on the receiving end of that as Children and so we don't not only don't want to put our kids through that, but we don't, you know, um and so like we our marriage is a huge, huge priority being having a good healthy marriage, being good parents for our girls. Like is a really really, really big deal. Really big deal. That makes sense. I mean it makes sense that sometimes you have to experience these things to know what you don't want for me. 

My parents split up, I want to say maybe I was five or six, so my whole life I just didn't understand what it was like to have parents together because you don't really form too many memories before that. So it's interesting to hear how, you know, you were in your teen teenage years, right? So completely different experience because you know that before and you know the after. Whereas my life was always just that, that after and then my mom died. So then everything else changed. But yeah, it's interesting to see how it forms your current life. But anyway, we digress. 

Yeah, I mean it definitely. Yeah, so I think that um definitely had a big impact but has also again had a big really like shaped what my own marriage looks like like today. Yeah. Do you, do you think that it also like kind of that feeling or that shame feeling or kind of just how you felt that you might be the only one going through it does that shape how you operate in business and in your, your speaking, does it give you other layers? Good question. Um you know, I don't know that I've ever really thought about it in that way. Um uh so I don't man, I don't know, I don't, that is maybe one of those things like, you know, if I spend a couple hours with a therapist or something, I'd be like, oh actually, you know have all this bitterness and regret and you know and whatever told my parents like I have a good relationship with both my parents today. Um they've been apart longer than they were when they were together and so yeah, kind of to your point like the idea of them even together like, oh that's weird. 

You know, like I can't even, I can't even picture what is that like, you know, your parents together as you kind of, you know, a big part of my teen years was them apart. You just, you don't, you don't know much different, you know, it's navigating new waters, but you said that you, you met your current, I mean your wife, I shouldn't say current wife, you met your wife in high school, which is a whole other like that's and you're still with her which is amazing and I believe that's part of kind of your getting closer to your life shift and what you've done for yourself. Yeah and I think that even um like we have been together for maybe a year or so when her parents split up and again we were just you know teenagers but um you know when her parents split up it was kind of a weird deal is also kind of a bit of a public thing but uh I think having like I think a big thing that's helped our marriage and our relationship is in a lot of ways like we've grown up together, you know like we've experienced some crazy stuff together and and so um we started dating like shortly after my parents split up and then um my mom actually got remarried and then they split up after I think 78 years something like that. And so I was kind of rocky and so like we just we've lived a lot of our you know our family experiences together and so I'm the oldest of three, I have a younger brother, younger sister, so my sister was I think nine when my wife and I started dating and so she's like I don't remember life without her, you know it's just kind of been this older sister, they've kind of grown up together Um so it's it's which is not great dating advice like start dating someone when you're 15 and it just works out, you know, forever. Um but I do think that there's just an advantage that we've had that it has helped of just like a lot of good bad ugly of life that has shaped who we are today, you know, we've experienced together, right? And and I think a lot of those moments can either will test you, right? 

They'll test your relationship. And so by surviving those moments together, I think you create a stronger bond or I would imagine that you create a stronger bond because it's a shared experience. So you can kind of rely on each other so that I mean one that's amazing that you're still with the same person from high school. I don't think there's a ton of people that can say that, but it also makes sense having gone through all those moments that that you would be right and to know that both of your both sets of your parents split up, you kind of also have that like we don't want to do that. 

We had earlier this year when we celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. And uh so I was telling our oldest, our oldest daughter, 16. And so I was telling her, I was like, hey actually, you know like mom and I we've we've been married longer than you know, either of our parents, you know, you're her grandparents and she thought about it for a second. 

She's like, well, congratulations, you set the high score. Yeah, we did. So Um but it sounds like um my mom's parents both passed away in the past couple years, but they they were married, I think it was 68, years um met on a blind date, you know, so you're looking at them like just awesome couple, you know? So um yeah, even though like for us, we both came from, you know, divorced families, it's like it doesn't mean that that has to happen to us. Like there's there's um you know, you you get to ultimately decide what life looks like for you and and um you know, determining whether or not whatever happens historically or in the past whether it's your fault or someone else's, you know, it was your product of someone else's decisions, positive or negative. Like you know, you still get to decide for you what life looks like going forward. 

Yeah, I mean, just that note of you get to decide for you, so many people are stuck on. Maybe not as much nowadays, but very much that society tells us like the next step or what you should do or the order in which you should do things and I think it's good to say, you know, like you don't have to repeat the past whether that's staying married or getting divorced right, Like you can make your own decisions and so it sounds like you're doing, you're setting a good example for your kids, but also just the fact that you say you get to make your own choices. I imagine that you're probably putting that on them as well. Um I think that my wife and I, like, especially as our girls have grown up, our girls are 16, 14 and 11. And so, you know, like our oldest as she gets closer to to college and kind of thinking through next steps, you know, it's, it's constantly reminding her of, um, you know, you, you can do whatever you want in terms of a career. Um and there's a lot of different options and here's kind of some pros and cons of all these different options. 

You don't need to do what I've done or what mom has done. Um but ultimately, like, you're in control. So like, good, bad, ugly and different, like, you, you get to decide and so like, I look at my own life today and I feel like I have a really great life and I wouldn't trade lives with anyone, but it's not because like, I didn't win the lottery, we didn't get some inheritance. You know, we didn't just get lucky. Like, there's a lot of like intentional decisions that we've made that has created the kind of life that we've had kind of like, reverse engineering and figure out what kind of life do we want to have, what are the things that we value, what do we want to do and like how do we work towards that and, and again, it's something overnight process but being intentional about building your life in such a way that you're just like dang, I wouldn't, this is awesome, I wouldn't trade this with anybody and so telling my girls that and reminding them like, hey, mom and dad have a great life as a family, have a great life, but it's not an accident like mom and dad, we we've worked on this and were intentional in our, in our marriage, were intentional, in our relationship with you or intentional as a family um intentional in our own individual lives and so we have a great life because we've made, you know, decisions and work work towards that. Yeah. Were you always, I mean, I love the word intention, I love leaning into that. Were you always that way growing up, like in what you wanted to do? Like say starting in high school, I think I think to some degree, yes, um I think I've always been pretty motivated driven. Um I think that uh um yeah, I mean, you know, despite parents splitting up, I think overall like I've had a pretty normal average life, so there wasn't some massive, you know, trauma or anything that has happened to me um at least I don't feel like, but I feel like um I've always felt like I'm very like just mentally and emotionally healthy, like I'm a pretty stable guy, you know, like the highs are too high, the lows aren't too low um life is really good, very optimistic, positive person, not naive, you know, that can still rain today and you know, there can be a damper on things, but um you're not guaranteed squat, but um I think just overall like I just I really enjoy, I really enjoy my life, I really really enjoyed the kind of life that I have. Um and I think that uh you know the the good bad ugly um give an example like sometimes and people ask like okay if you can if you go what's your biggest regret or if you can go back and change one thing, you know, what would you change? And um I don't I wouldn't change anything and and sometimes they even have a hard time coming up with like, oh here's my my biggest regret because not that I haven't had them, but it's just like like everything that has happened up to this point has led to this moment and I really enjoy this moment, I like where my life is at today, you know? And so if my if my parents had stayed together, but maybe they had been miserable, like how would that have changed, you know, my own marriage today, you know, and how that changed the dynamic of the relationship that I have with each of them and so like everything that's happened again, all of it has led to this point. And so um I always remind my girls like if you don't like your life, like fix it, do something like don't wait for um yeah, and they're younger, but just in general, like don't wait for uh whatever political party is in power and whoever you vote for isn't gonna change your life and um you know, you get to decide where you live and what kind of work you do and what you do with your money and who you spend your time with and what you think about and where you spend your energy and effort and resources, like that's on you, like you get you get to choose that and decide that so um yeah, if you don't, if you don't like your life, like you're the problem and the solution. 

It's interesting too, because I talked to a lot of people, I mean I mentioned this a little bit ago of how I felt like growing up at 18, there was an invisible checklist that I had to accomplish, you know, like I had to graduate high school and then I had to go to college, it didn't matter what I chose in college, I just had to go, right and then I had to graduate and then I had to get a good job and I felt like there was this this invisible checklist, you know, because I can't find the checklist. I don't think there really was one, I love that you are instilling that in your kids that you know, there isn't really a checklist like change your life to the way that you want it. So what did you like, how did you get to that in high school, You graduated high school like what happened, how did you get to where you are now? Yeah, so I think the, this was kind of the big shift that I think for me was um in high school, I was really involved in my local church and my youth pastor had a really big impact on my life and I was like I want to do that like that seems like a cool career path and I just kinda felt like you know if I can make the kind of impact and difference in other's lives that he had made in my own life that just seemed super fulfilling and rewarding and so um after high school I went to bible college um and I was like, I wanna you know, I want to follow in his footsteps wannabe youth pastor and so then um my first kind of career role was at a different church as a as a youth pastor, I did that for about a year and a half or so um and parts of it, I like parts of, I didn't like um but one thing I really enjoyed was speaking and speaking was one of those things that I felt like I was decent at and I wanted to do more of and so, um, I think I, I quickly was starting to feel like, um, you know, maybe this, this role as youth pastor isn't for me, but I was also kind of going like, well crap, like I went to college for this and what would I, there's not like something I'd much rather be doing this or I should be doing something differently. Um, and so it was kind of like having this felt like this quarter life crisis of going like what, you know what I want to be when I grow up and I feel like I'm kind of, you know, I've taken some steps where I'm at least uh, somewhat deep in and feeling like I can't change can I? Or how does this work, You know? And so, um, I remember, I remember having a conversation with my wife and feeling like I, I think I want to, you know, leave this job, I don't know what I'd rather be doing, but I feel confident like this isn't it? And to further complicate things is that she was, I think four or five months pregnant with our first child. And so, Um, I think that was definitely like a factor that kind of pushed me, there's nothing like bringing a kid into the world that just cause you to question everything and like what am I doing with my life, you know? And so um so that season where um I think like I left that role a couple months later, she had our oldest child is now 16 and then that stretch of about a year or so of just kind of like going crap, what do I want to do now, like I thought this is what I wanna do, I spent several years going to college for this thing and time, energy, effort, resources, money invested to do this thing is not what I want, I don't know what I'd rather be doing and and a lot of like well meaning well intentioned friends and family members around me going like, hey, quit your job, was pregnant, did you think about this? You know, and you're like, I thought I did, but maybe not, you know? Um so that stretch was like in my mid twenties was like a big big life shift of really thinking through like okay what do I really want to do, what would that look like? And again, that's not an overnight thing, but like really taking the time to do some digging and soul searching and then figuring out, you know, if it is speaking or for me what whatever it could be like okay now again let's start taking some intentional steps that direction knowing it's not gonna just magically happen. Um but start moving that direction and so yeah, I still look back on that, you know that period of life as just a massive, massive life shift that that led to where I'm at today. When did you, when in that process did you decide to quit what you were doing? Um So I vividly remember the point where I was at um I was I was kind of like him hauling on it, like I want to do this, I don't want to do this. Um I had had a conversation with um my boss at the church um who admittedly like wasn't the best guy to work for at all, and he was definitely like, it was definitely a factor of just like, yeah, I don't know that I want to work in this type of environment. Um but I remember I was at a conference um at the time was um this church I was on staff at was in Missouri is where we live, where we grew up and um happened to be we live today in Nashville. And so while I was on staff of the church, we always happened to attend a conference in Nashville several years before moving here, but I was at this conference for youth pastors. And I remember sitting in a session And I remember um I vividly remember the speaker saying something to the effect of uh if you don't enjoy at least 80% of what you're doing, you should find something else. And I remember just thinking like really we can, we can do that. And I remember leaving that session and calling my wife and we've been having some of these conversations, but I remember leaving that session, calling her and saying like I think we're done again. 

I don't know what's next. But um but I I remember leaving that session and calling her thinking like, okay, we're gonna rip the Band aid and figure it out from there. Have you ever called that person that speaker? You know, I I couldn't even tell you their name. 

Could you imagine You changed my life by saying one sentence. But I mean, I think it's also interesting like um you know, kind of fast forward. So uh to today where I was a full time speaker for about 89 years or so and now run a training company called the speaker lab where we teach people the business of speaking. How do you basically like where I was going? Like, I want to be a speaker, but I don't know like how do you find gigs and how much do you charge? What do you speak about? Like how does this world work? And so that's that's who we work with today is speakers who are going like, I want to do this, but I don't know how and so we've worked with thousands of speakers all over the world, all different topics. 

Industries, ages, stages of life. And so one of the things that I find really rewarding about that is one that helping people who were, where I was going, like I think I can do this, I just need someone to tell me. But also the ripple effect of the work that we're doing with speakers knowing like, you know, we could probably, everybody watching listening, we could probably all come up with speakers who have impacted our life in some way and going like I can't remember this guy's name, but something he said a one line thing that he probably wouldn't even remember, like dramatically impacted the trajectory my life. And so now as a part of the speaker lab, if we're able to work with and coach and train other speakers who are then able to have those impacts on audiences that they speak to that we will never know about. But to feel like for a fraction of a percent we were able to be a part of that and be able to help facilitate that. Like that's incredibly, incredibly rewarding. 

Yeah, that butterfly effect, it's just interesting, I always think of, you know, I, I talked to someone the other day where a phone call that he answered and he never usually answered a phone call and he got that phone call and someone said something that really just stuck with him and that changed his life. It's like had you had, you had to go to the bathroom during that segment of maybe you would have stuck around in your position for a little bit longer until it was, you know, until you found your next trigger or even had you listened to all the naysayers in your life that were like, are you sure you want like just the smartest move with a kid at home and you know, and then the family that you're about to raise, is this the smartest thing? Because I think again, me stuck in my society head, I feel like that's just expected of us. Like we have to have a plan, we have to know what's going on and it's nice to see that you were able to like have enough confidence in yourself, you know, to to be able to move forward. So once you called your wife and was like done, what did you what like what steps did you take to kind of create the life that you have now because imagining, how long ago was this? Like, so I'm imagining that what you have now with the speaker lab did not exist in a format that would be helpful to you. 

Oh not at all. Yeah. Um and so um you know at the time like I after kind of doing that soul searching for a little while of going like, okay, I wanna be, I wanna be a speaker, you know like what does that mean though? Um and at the time again, this is 17 years ago, there weren't any books or podcasts or resources or training or coaching or anything that I really knew about about how do you actually do that? And so um part of like whenever, whenever we started the speaker lab about seven years ago or so was to create resources that I wish I had when I got started. Um and so yeah, I mean it was when as a youth pastor speaking was one of those things I felt like I was decent at um speaking on a weekly basis to students, um, speak every so often on the weekend and, and big church, you know, and I got good feedback from that and it's just kind of a mix of like, I felt like there was something there sometimes like raw talent. 

I also really enjoyed it, I enjoyed the process of it, I enjoyed, you know, the, the art and science of communicating an idea and I thought, um, storytelling and so it was kind of, you know, just thinking through like, what do I want to do, what could that look like. And speaking was the thing I kept coming back to another thing that was really helpful for, for me earlier and still to this day is looking for people who are a step or two ahead of you who are doing what you want to do and doing it in a way that you want to do it. And so for me is going like, okay, I enjoy working with students, I enjoy speaking and so um browse around and finding did a bunch of surging just on google for youth speakers, high school speakers, um college speakers and found like there's a bunch of them out there um and uh just kind of like trying to peek behind the curtain and see what they're up to and finding anything I could on, anything that they've been up to, reaching out to some of them and it's just kind of like, it helped me to see someone who is oh like that's it, I see it now, like it's kind of collect, you know, clicks for me. 

That's the thing that I want to do and there's someone who's doing it and not like oh there's Tony Robbins, he's a speaker, I can do it. No, but like someone who's like a step or two ahead, not light years ahead but doing what you wanna do and doing in a way that you want to do it, they're speaking and they're speaking to schools where they're speaking to whatever and that resonates with what I want to do and it just kind of like help in my mind, like I could see myself doing that, it became more real and tangible, you know? And so um that was incredibly helpful again then and even still today of um finding people who are doing something that you want to do and doing it in a way that you want to do it and get a step or two ahead that build some confidence, but also there's probably some breadcrumbs there that you can you can follow and learn from. Yeah, and I think it helps to envision that you in that spot. Like I can actually make a career out of this speaking thing because I think a lot of people, well a lot of people don't like speaking right, because they're probably the number one fear is public speaking, but I think there's a lot of people that enjoy speaking but don't consider it to be a viable option for them. Was the experience of speaking like just the act of speaking kind of what drew you or was it a specific topic or like what part of that was like, oh, I can make this a forever career. Yeah, I mean, I think just speaking in general, like I knew I wanted to keep speaking to the students, so this is a big mistake that a lot of new speakers make, as we say, I just enjoy speaking, speaking fun. So who do I speak to? I don't know, I speak to people, I speak to humans, my messages for everybody and what do I speak about? I don't know, what do you want me to speak about it? I can speak about anything, you know? Well you're trying to speak about anybody and every anybody and everybody about anything and everything like that just doesn't work. And so, um so I knew real quick, like I like speaking and I like speaking to students and there are other audiences that I could speak to, but like, at least to get started like that just felt like low hanging fruit in the world that I understood. Um and so yeah, I I really enjoyed the, you know, you're kind of like walking on a tightrope with no net, you know, you're you're giving a live speech and a live presentation. 

I like the fun of that. I like seeing the the real time reaction and feedback to that because, you know, you and I are recording a podcast right now and there may be uh mill millions of people that listen to this. Um and but like you and I will never sit and watch someone listen to us talk, you know? Um and so people are gonna listen to this in the car, they're gonna listen to it, you know, while they're working out or making dinner or whatever and we will never watch that. Um but whenever you're giving a speech in front of a presentation in front of, you know, 50 or 500 or 5000 people, you immediately find out like I delivered that line or told that story and that worked or didn't work or people laughed or people look confused or lost as you get that real time feedback and that there's something, there's something really rewarding and fun about that, you know, uh providing that experience where um you learn something that you can improve each time you give that talk and that presentation and just kind of that, that rush of that experience. Yeah, I mean, I think, I think I can, a lot of people can relate to that in the sense of any kind of live performance, right? 

You can, it gives you, it it feeds you in a different way than say, a recorded presentation that you might give, you know, for a school project or for work project or even just a zoom kind of conversation. Uh that is a little different as well because people are maybe paying attention, they're not paying to come see you or students, you know, that place is paying them to come see you, did you find students to be your area because they might be more challenging to engage or did you find them challenging to engage just in general as a, as a student population? I mean they're challenging to engage for sure regardless. Um I don't know that that was necessarily like a factor variable and me saying, hey, I want to speak to them, I think it was just kind of, um, I had a lot of experience speaking to students as a youth pastor, enjoyed it. And so when I was going, I want to be a speaker, what are the opportunities that exist is kind of a natural next step? 

I was also, you know, I was pretty young, I was in my Early mid 20s. And so, uh, it wasn't like, you know, I'm a a veteran career executive. And so it makes sense for me to talk, you know, in the oil and gas industry where I have a ton of experience, like I don't know any of that squad. 

Uh, and so, uh, so I think it's just kind of like a natural logical next step for me. But yeah, like speaking to students is it's fun, but it's also very challenging. Um, and so, you know, if I was going to speak to high school, like they were glad I got them out of class for a little while, but like they didn't care what I have to say, you know? And so you really, whereas like if you're speaking to, um typically like an adult audience, probably gonna be a bit more respectful and probably be paying attention even if they're like, not totally clued in with your zone in with you. Like they're at least gonna be trying to pretend like they're paying attention student if they're not interested if they're not engaged, like they don't care. And so there is like that, that was part of the fun of the challenge of going like, all right, I got 1000 teenagers in this auditorium who have no idea who I am, and I don't really care what I have to say, I what do I need to do to get them on my side in a very short window of time. 

Um, so for me, like one of things that worked really well was humor to use a lot of humor, a lot of comedy, a lot of storytelling and just trying to like build trust and build rapport, build connection with an audience that just didn't know who I was and didn't care who I was. And so, you know, I was giving a talk like a high percentage of it was a lot of humor, a lot of jokes, a lot of comedy, a lot of storytelling, so that then when you're making a point, you've got them on your side, you know, and you're, it's the sugar to make the medicine go down type thing. Um, so you're building that, that rapport and that connection so that when you you do bring some type of truth to the table, you've earned the right to share that and to be heard. Yeah, I mean, and I think to your point, knowing your target audience right as what you alluded to, you're not, you know, a speaker for everyone, if you have that you have in mind what their needs and wants are in a lot of cases self deprecating humor probably brings a lot of, a lot of those, those students in. 

I think another piece that was probably a smart decision. I don't know if it was intentional or not, is the fact that you were in your mid twenties, so you were closer in age to them, which then creates more of a relatability. You weren't, you know, a 70 year old person that they didn't know you instead you were someone that was only a couple of years older than them. Yeah, it's kind of like a lot of times, like if I if I was if I was speaking to a, you know, a school audience or a youth audience, um it wasn't like I was saying something that they had never heard, you know, they heard about stuff from their parents and teachers and that sort of thing, but it's just a different voice, it's kind of a, you know, like a big brother type feel? Um but wrapped with, you know, a lot of like, an entertaining way um that that again, kind of build that rapport and trust with him. Yeah, it almost feels like what you mentioned before is kind of, your recommendation of someone leaning into a new field is to find someone a couple steps ahead a couple steps ahead in life, right? And so you're able to kind of not tell them what to do, but kind of share your experiences in a way that might be relatable to them. So speaking of that, what what was like, what was that first paid speaking gigs that you got in your journey? Like, what was that like for you? It was amazing. I vividly remember that um the first, like, true paid gig that I did, I had like I mentioned we were living in Missouri um and I reached out to a couple different events. I heard back from one of them, they hired me to to speak um in uh in February 2006 and it was at this Missouri four H conference and if you're not familiar with four H is kind of like a leadership group for students, especially like an agricultural uh places and and in rural communities. And I didn't, I came from the suburbs, I didn't know anything about you know farming or cows or any of that stuff but um so I went and I spoke for 30 45 minutes or so to about 300 students um got a standing ovation and had a bunch of students were like oh that was awesome, it was really cool, can you come to my school or that was really whatever and um I remember afterwards talking with the event planner, the decision maker, they were super kind very complimentary, um gave me a check um I remember getting to my car and opening the envelope and it is for $1000 which I knew like we had contracted that, I knew that's what was, it wasn't like a surprise or something but um I just remember holding that just thinking like holy crap this is, I mean it was like I felt like a billion dollars $1000 to stand up there and talk for a while and have people tell me how great that was like that was amazing. And so it was just remember like breaking down in tears and just feeling like man that was just so rewarding and so much fun and and it was just like a boost of confidence like this, like that that's what I wanna do, I wanna keep, how do I keep doing things like this and if I can get paid for it to like that's amazing. Um And so I think that was also like, we're talking about like that life shift of going like going from okay, I went to college for this one thing, I did that one thing and then tried to figure it out, maybe if I was gonna do something different and then do the, you know the speaking thing that I didn't have anybody who came up to me like this is a bad idea, you shouldn't be a speaker, let me rain on your parade. Like nobody did that, but I'm sure people were like, are you sure? Like how you gonna make it? Like speaking once for $1000 is great, but that's not gonna, you know, you can't live off $1000 for a year? Uh And so how do you do that consistently? How do you do that ongoing? How do you turn this into a business? How do you turn this into a career? But it was just kind of again that that first step of confidence of like no I can do this like it's going to require a lot of work and effort, you know, it's kind of like if you you know you're trying to lose £50 and it just felt like this insurmountable thing, but then you lose that first pound and you're like okay, I got a long ways to go, but we're headed in the right direction and it just kinda gives you a bit more, more confidence to keep the momentum going. 

Yeah, I mean it makes sense to me getting that check was not really about getting paid for that one moment, but it was getting paid for all that legwork that you were doing and building like yeah, I'm on the right, I'm on the right path, this is possible. So I totally understand kind of breaking down in that in that moment for that big old $1000 right? But amazing. I mean how much of your time does some did something like that take to get that job? Like was there a lot of legwork that too because like how do you get hired as your first speaking gig? Yeah. Yeah, I think it's uh it's important remember like every speaker starts from zero, every speaker starts from scratch similar, like we were talking about like with the podcast stuff um the uh so yeah, it's a lot of like um and again this is an exclusive to speaking, but if you wanted to be a freelance graphic designer, if you wanted to do accounting or whatever and you're trying to get that first client, like everybody starts at zero. And so it's yeah, it's a lot of work to kind of get going and and to get someone to take you seriously or to pay you money or to trust you that the, the product or service or whatever that you're trying to provide is worth their money and their investment. And so yeah, it's a lot of work um initially and then ongoing. But um I remember I had a speaker friend tell me early on, he said you have to fall in love with the process meaning like um uh I'll give an example of like um going to the gym, like oftentimes people like I want to be in shape, I want to, you know, uh I feel like I'm, I don't have some dad bod, I want to be able to stand in front of the mirror and not have a tear, you know, call from fall out of my face. 

I just want to feel confident and so like we want this end result, but the point being like, you have to fall on, like nobody wants to get up early to go to the gym, like that's not real thrilling for most people and I said you just have to fall in love with the process. And so the um so for me, I almost enjoyed like booking the gig more than doing the gig, meaning like just falling in love, like going to the gym, you know the end result is standing on the stage and like okay I did a lot of work to book this gig to follow up with them to get to this point, but it's also like falling in love with the process of just showing up and doing, doing the work, whether you feel like it or not, just being like treating it like a business and that was something I did early on and still to this day of just like being an entrepreneur, being a speaker, whatever you wanna do, you know, there are days where you, you um you may not feel like it or you're tired and you want to sleep in or you want to take a day off or whatever, but like I this is a business um and so I show up and do the work, take days off and take time off and I've got flexibility and freedom and autonomy, but um at the same time there are days were like, I don't want to do this like no like treat it like a professional and show up and this is part of what you're supposed to do and if you want those results, you got to be willing to put in the work um so you can't, I think especially with speakers remind speakers, like you can't expect professional pro results if you're putting in hobby effort. So if you want speaking or podcasting or whatever to be a hobby, that's fine. There's nothing wrong with that at all. But you can't, you can't say, well why am I not having, you know, millions of downloads or booking a ton of gigs? 

You know, and I'm just kind of putting in a few like minimal effort. Like it doesn't work like that, you know? Um So if you want professional results, you gotta be willing to put in, you know, professional effort at what point in your journey do you feel like you leveled up? You know, like what was there a number that you wanted to hit? Was there a amount of bookings that you wanted to hit? Was there someplace where you felt like this is this is it? Um I mean, I'll give you one thing that was really, really instrumental and kind of transitioning from like a big shift from going from just pure speaker to starting the speaker lab. And it was this like I was um, I was doing about 60, 70 speaking gigs a year was traveling a lot was gone, 80, 90 nights a year was doing like a lot of like, like big keynotes, thousands of people, you know, big auditoriums arenas. It was awesome. I loved it. But it was also reminder, like speaking as a high paying manual labor job and that I'd get paid really, really well to stand on stage and run my mouth for an hour. But the nature of it was, I had to get on a plane, I had to leave my family, I had to go somewhere um there, yeah, there's parts of it that were, it was cool, it was fun. 

I was traveling a lot in first class and visiting a lot of parts of the country that a lot of people have never seen in their life and um you know, part of my job was to stand on stage and talk and people would laugh and then want to take pictures with me and get an autograph or whatever, like some parts of it were cool but it's kind of like a, it's like a surgeon, a surgeon makes really good money but they got to show up and do surgery and so uh so I remember having a conversation with a speaker mentor friend of mine and he said you want to regularly find things where the challenge exceeds the skill set, meaning that when I first started speaking, I um I felt like I was in over my head, the challenge exceeded the skill set but what happens is over time it flips and the skill set exceeds the challenge meaning at that stage, like I could, I could stand in front of an audience of 1000 people and given our keynote and crush it and internally just be on autopilot and like it would be really good, but I'm just gonna board and so he said you regularly have to put yourself in situations and spots where you are outside of your comfort zone in a healthy way, but enough to just be like dang, this is like, I gotta lock in here, this is a, this is a big deal and so um I think about that, a lot of regularly putting myself in spots where the challenge exceeds the skill set and when the skill set exceeds the challenge again, looking for ways to flip that and reverse that and, and again getting outside of my comfort zone, so that talk, that conversation I had with this, this speaker friend was really impactful for thinking through and kind of making the transition from just purely being a speaker to now, let's do it, let's start a training company and coaching company for speakers right, which then in turn serves your family life balance right and what is being able to stay home and you're still, I'm assuming you're still doing speaking gigs and things like Some, not nearly like, again, like I was doing this whole time, I was uh you know, doing 70 speaking gigs on the road all the time, whereas now I'll do a few things here there, but the speaker lab has grown tremendously, we've got 35 40 people on our team now and, and um we've got a lot of moving pieces and so, you know, I stay plenty busy just as ceo of a company. Um, and so there's a lot of, you know, a lot of things there that I really enjoy, I'm really enjoying what I, what I do. So today it's, you know, it's definitely much more of a, of a business than, you know, just being a speaker. 

Again, there's nothing wrong with being a speaker or being a surgeon or doing whatever high paying manual labor job, there's nothing wrong with that at all. But um, I knew like, okay, I wanted to make some shifts towards creating more of a business and less of just having a job. Um, and so this is definitely a step in that direction because I know you said that younger Grant was just really fulfilled with those speaking moments. What in this part of your journey, fills your cup, what part of this? The speaker lab? Yeah, I, I really enjoyed the challenge and the fun of, of building a business and there are days where just like Dang, we're like, we're killing it. Like things are going really well and days like the wheels of the bus are falling off and I don't know why, you know, and everything in between. 

Um, I've really, um, one thing that has been a goal of mine is we have a completely virtual company, like I said, We've got 35, 40 people on the team. I'm really intentional until the team that regularly, like I want the speakers have to be the best place that our team members ever work and the reality is like we all gotta work, gotta make a living somehow. And so I know as a business owner that finding attracting, retaining good talent is not easy. And so when someone comes to the speaker lab, I want to make it really, really difficult for them to leave, not a manipulative way, but for them to be like, I'm not uh like the grass isn't greener over there. Like I love what I do here. You know, I had a, someone on the team who told me recently, he said this is the first job I've had where I'm not thinking about my next job and like how many people are like that where they're doing something and like they're immediately thinking about where's the escape hatch? Where's the exit? How do I get out of here? 

I don't know what I want to do, but it's not this like you don't want people like that and you want to create an environment like that. And so, um, I want to make sure that the speaker lab is just an amazing place for people to work and I know that we're making a tangible difference with our team members, but also in the work that we're doing with speakers and with our students and so um, yeah, every day, there's new challenges and new things to try to figure out. So I love, you know, I love the puzzle of what we're trying to solve right now. Yeah. Do you think that you want to create this business and this feel because of the experience you had with that boss you said in Missouri, you think that's a very great question. 

Um, and something I've thought about, and I think that that's absolutely um, a factor, um, because that was not the case, you know, for me at all, just like this is a horrible work experience and um, knowing like certainly not every experiences like that and there are plenty of, uh, any place and certainly churches that like have a great environment and great culture and um, um, but you know, that one in particular was just like, oh man, that, you know, as a boss, you're a jerk and I don't want to be that to other people, You know, like that's just not, that's not a cool way to treat people. Um, so yeah, absolutely, I do think that that's had an impact and factor and and putting such a priority on how we treat people in the type of culture and environment that we have. Yeah. And you know, how you want to be treated and so if you're the one kind of creating this space, you know, that's up to you to kind of make it feel the way that you want to be treated as well. 

I think, you know, all of your story, you've said it and I'll repeat it, but basically there's all the pieces kind of are dictating what you're doing later. You know, you talk about your parents getting divorced and now how you and your wife approach building your family and staying together and and all these pieces and now, you know, that particular terrible boss, which I think we've all had at one point in time teaches us what we don't want, what we don't want for ourselves, what we don't want for other people. So I'm inspired by that, just knowing that we should be looking at our lives as as grateful for the experience. I often have this conversation with other guests about, you know, my mom died when I was eight. So many people in my life. Say if you could go back in time, would you change things? And now here in my forties, I think well no, I wouldn't because it sounds terrible to say it out loud, right? Like these words are terrible, but I wouldn't because this is who I am because of that, right? Because of those moments. And so I completely agree with you in that no regrets or no changing things because we wouldn't be where we are, we wouldn't be having this conversation. 

I wouldn't get to learn from you and have this experience. So I think I think it's cool, I like to kind of wrap these conversations up with a question and I'm trying to think of how I want to phrase this. Uh I think because you're a business owner and because you are, you know, a professional speaker and you've done hundreds, thousands, lots of them, what would you, what would you say is the most important thing for someone that kind of wants is like, I really want to kind of do this. 

What's the first thing that they should do to kind of get into speaking besides go to the speaker lab dot com. Yeah, definitely go to dot com, we got plenty of resources there, but um yeah, I think that it's important to kind of get some clarity on what you, um, how speaking fits into what you want to do, meaning that there are people that, that do that speak full time, that's all that they do, they do 60 70 gigs a year or 100 gigs a year and that's fine. They're people that maybe have a bun irons in the fire and like I like speaking, I don't want to do it full time necessarily. I'd love to do five gigs or 10 gigs and I just don't know how do you find those and how much you charge and what do you speak about again? How does that world work? And so I think getting some clarity on like what and again, you may not necessarily always know. Um I think that speaking and like kind of a larger place, uh starting a business or figuring out your career or just life in general. I heard a really good analogy one time that it's like, it's like driving a car at night when you're driving a car at night, you can only see as far as the headlights will show you, but you can travel hundreds or thousands of miles that way and have no idea of the roadblocks and the construction and the detours and the accident and all that's gonna happen up ahead, you don't want to know any of that stuff, you know? Um and so uh like again, I love my life, but I don't have some five year or 10 year plan of, I know exactly how it's gonna cause I'm driving a car at night and I can have a pretty good idea of like what this week and the next couple of weeks you're gonna hold and have some rough idea of what I hope the next few like you think about things like a pandemic, like nobody's sitting around going like, alright, 2020 buckle up because here it comes, like nobody knows that, you know, you're driving a car at night and then all of a sudden you get into something, you're like holy crap what is going on here, you know, like, okay, we gotta pivot adapt, figure it out, here we are, let's you know, let's roll with this. Um and so, you know, again, whether you wanna be a speaker or whatever business or career idea is or just life in general, like there's a lot of unknowns and a lot of things I can't control, but I do know that I can control, you know, my own thoughts, my own decisions, my own reaction, my own emotions. Um the people, I surround myself with the type of information that I ingest and digest and pay attention to the people I want to be learning from and emulating, um I can control those things and so, um yeah, I want to make sure that um, for for whatever happens in life and the things like I can't control, recognize what I can control and and pay attention to that. Yeah, drive the car at night with intention, right? And I feel like that's the great takeaways from your story and the way that you've pivoted and created the life that, that you not necessarily knew you wanted, right? But at you know, whatever that headlight goes through, that's the life you want and you're kind of driving towards that, I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day to be a part of the life shift podcast. It's been fun conversation opportunity for sure. And if you're listening to this episode and you want to rate and review Grant can probably agree. Those are sometimes just nice to see and maybe don't do anything else, but they're nice to see. So we will be back next week with a brand new episode of the Life shift podcast.