087 – Becoming an Inc Magazine Top 100 speaker – employee to business owner (w/ Bobby Umar)
Bobby Umar has been named by Inc Magazine as a top 100 leadership speaker alongside people like John Maxwell and Richard Branson, he has taken to the famous and prestigious Tedx stage four times and has over half a million followers on social media. Bobby is also an international author and a Huffington post contributor. A father of two and loves improv comedy.
Bobby started his business full time in January 2017, he rolled out of his corporate role and went straight into launching his business. His number one revenue stream today is professional speaking – inspirational motivational speaker, travelling mostly around Canada and from time to time internationally. Bobby speaks on leadership as a general theme with specialised expertise in three key areas:
Networking – leadership building and connection
Social media and digital marketing
Bobby other revenue streams are coaching (executive coaching, career coaching and business coaching) and events.
Why and how speaking
During his corporate days Bobby conducted workshops and training and received very strong positive feedback about his speaking and motivational skills. By the time Bobby was ready to leave corporate he leaned on this feedback and took all the positives and embarked on building out his personal brand. After a deep dive into his personal values, traits, personality assessments and some soul searching – Bobby says he found out that his brand was all about connection, people, persuasion, influence, performing, presenting and diversity, speaking seemed like a logical thing to do.
Bobby kept track of all his connections throughout his career even before the advent of LinkedIn, he maintained an excel spreadsheet with 3,000 contacts, so the first thing he did was to send out 500 brochures to people on this list and then also sent an email to all 3,000 contacts sharing that he had launched a business, his services and clearly specifying the opportunities he was looking for. After sending that out a few people wrote back to Bobby (not as many as initially hoped for but it was a start…), some called and with a bit of follow up Bobby landed his first gig.
Business growth after the first few paying customers
Bobby made it a priority to do an amazing job so that it was easy to get referrals from each engagement
He leveraged his network some more, set up calls and met up with his contacts – he estimates having met over 1,000 people for catch up chats, coffees and meals in his first 3-5 years of launching his business. He let them know what he was up to and this fueled more engagements and referral opportunities.
Maintained a strong social media presence through Facebook and LinkedIn
Saying yes to most gigs that were offered to him, a lot of which Bobby says he wouldn’t do today
Paid v Free events
Starting out, Bobby was doing a lot of events for free as he built out his brand but was always looking for paid opportunities.
His paid opportunities were attracting a $500 fee, and after a while this changed to $1,000 with a lower end engagement being $500, and then $2,500 an engagement and continued to grow that way.
Bobby shares how you have to know when to say NO to certain opportunities if they are not within your core niche as saying NO indirectly helps you say YES to what you are really called to do.
While previously unaware of what it was, on 5 October 2011, Bobby did the first of his four Tedx talks and decided to launch his social media strategy as it clear in his mind that social media was here to stay.
On this day Bobby launched his social media arsenal on all channels – Twitter, Facebook business page, newsletter and announced his Tedx talk – making sure all his content was all synchronised within the brand he was creating.
Within 6 months Bobby landed his first speaking gig directly from Twitter, and that was the start of good innings from social media.
Break through moments
Bobby says his first break though moment was his first Tedx talk which he simultaneously cross leveraged into his social media strategy launch. He had been in business for 4 years at the time, both these events gave Bobby lots of credibility and visibility as well as a strong edge over many other professional speakers who had not yet embraced social media in the same way.
The second moment came in 2015, Bobby had strong recognition as a social media thought leader by this time and this was then named by Inc Magazine as a top 100 leadership speaker (without even pitching for it!) and secondly he scored a speaker agent which meant less prospecting, less logistical admin work and more time to focus on delivery.
Other topics we discussed on the podcast
Corporate skills that prepared Bobby well for his entrepreneurial journey today
Networking, relationship building and connecting with people
How to use the different social media platforms to generate leads and connect with prospects and how to incorporate email and phone connection to close out your deals
Transitioning social media followers to your in house email list using content
Sales funnel tactics for coaching, speaker training and marketing networking courses
“My number 1 legacy is going to be my children, being a dad and raising my kids to be nurtured, happy, fulfilled and global productive citizens is going to be the greatest story and legacy of my life. Secondly, I have always been about connection – I am always there for people, I will support people and I will always help them fly.” Bobby Umar