The Northern California Chapter of the National Speakers Association has been running an Academy for emerging speakers since 2005. The Speakers Academy (originally called Pro-Track) has graduated over 300 speakers from the year-long training program. Since 2007 I have interviewed over 45 graduates and posted their information and the accompanying podcasts to this blog.
I recently contacted some of the graduates to ask them how their careers as professional speakers have progressed since they took the training.
Gary graduated from the Academy in 2007. My original interview with him listed his already impressive credentials as an internationally recognized author, keynote speaker, trainer, and facilitator.
In the last year alone he has spoken at many premier venues including Microsoft, Starbucks, the Mayo Clinic, Boeing, the Scottsdale Human Relations Commission, Genentech, County of San Diego, the University of New Mexico and the University of Minnesota.
Gary says that he values those moments during a talk “when I can see and feel the emotional connection, when I know I’m not only communicating but touching something authentic in someone. I see it in their engaged focus, in the gentle nodding of someone’s head, in their laughter. Those are the moments that make this worthwhile, the moments I work for.”
Gary acknowledges the profound impact the Academy had on his career as a professional speaker:
I got down to business following my Pro-Track experience. I’d been speaking, and I had work, but I had not adopted the business mindset I needed to get my business to the next level. I learned a great deal that was practical, about things that needed to be done. But the real beauty of the experience was a deeper, core attitude about my speaking as a true profession that required an elevated level of focus and business thinking. Being primarily a creative person, I’ll always have to work harder at those, but the priorities are now indelibly part of my awareness, and I could not be more appreciative of how Pro-Track met that need — nor of the dear friends I made in the process.
Frauke Schorr, PhD
Frauke joined the NSA Speakers Academy in 2010 when she was building her corporate training and executive development company, the Centered Leadership Institute. Her company provides High Performance Coaching, Workshops, Seminars and Leadership Retreats customized to client needs.
As someone who has interviewed leading business people in Silicon Valley and throughout the world and uncovered patterns of thinking common to successful entrepreneurs, she appreciates the boost that the Academy gave her:
The Speakers Academy is run by accomplished NSA speakers who generously volunteer their expertise and time to those attending the program. I found immense value in the practical insights and resources around building a credible speaking practice such as defining your brand, effectively booking speaking engagements, and defining the audience you are meant to speak to.
With a supportive community of like-minded peers, I found myself highly encouraged to increase my speaking engagements from the get go. By the end of the year, I had spoken in well over 50 venues with audiences ranging from 10-100+ participants. I was impressed by the generous support offered by seasoned NSA speakers throughout the year. Many good things have developed from my participation in the Speakers Academy. I have joined NSA Northern California Chapter and serve on the Board as a way to contribute to this great community. I have booked speaking engagements as a result of being listed on the NSA website.
I met Wendy when she enrolled in the 2011 Academy class and since then we’ve got to know each other as fellow NSA/NC Board members. She was already a member of the National Speakers Association when she enrolled in the Academy training program and since then has continued to grow her speaking business.
She’s recently spoken at the AIPSO Leadership Series, Johnston RI; Leading Women, Warwick, RI; HRMRI-Human Resources Professional in RI and MA where she led a discussion on International differences with college students and HR Professionals; and the East Bay Women’s Network, Alameda, CA. She also co-leads a wine tasting and leadership discussion for a world-wide consulting company at their high end marketing events.
Wendy also produces the highly-regarded weekly radio show It’s All in the BRA: BUSINESS-REVENUE-ASSETS where she is joined by fabulous guests to talk about business, leadership and innovation from a woman’s perspective. The show airs live online every Monday at 1 p.m. PST on Contact Talk Radio International. The show is also available through select satellite stations and online streaming via iTunes Radio, LIVE365.com, Ping.FM, TuneIn.com, Upsnap Mobile and Xiaa Mobile.
Wendy states that:
I really appreciated the knowledge and generosity of all the instructors at Pro-Track. The course was instrumental in helping me build a strong network of colleagues I stay connected to. It was a great business decision to learn so much about the business of speaking, even though I was already a member of NSA. I can’t imagine any other program providing as much information, support, coaching and camaraderie. I highly recommend it!
I first met with Aaron last year he was enrolled in the Academy. At the time, I noted that he had published his first book — The Young Professional’s Guide to the Working World — and ran a company focused on empowering young professionals to succeed in their careers. My own daughter read his book shortly after graduating and used the suggestions in it to help launch her own career.
Since graduating from the Academy he has gone on to become a member of the National Speakers Association. He’s spoken to companies like UnitedHealth Group, at universities such as UC Berkeley and to young leaders at organizations like the United Way. He released his second book, The Young Professional’s Guide to Managing: Building, Guiding and Motivating Your Team to Achieve Awesome Results and continues to focus on helping millennials build the foundation for successful careers.
Aaron says that:
Pro-Track played a key role in launching my speaking career. I value how Pro-Track not only improved my speaking skills but more importantly taught me how to run a successful speaking business.
Kurt is the owner of The Sales Foundry, a training organization which brings Social Selling Skills to America’s top sales teams. Since graduating Pro-Track in 2011 he’s spoken to a wide variety of sales associations about social media and, especially, LinkedIn. His most memorable moment on stage was speaking to an audience of 300 at a national sales meeting on a huge stage with a split screen video on both sides.
Kurt acknowledges the impact Pro-Track had on his career:
Pro-Track really helped me focus on a niche. I came in as a general sales speaker/trainer and left zero-ed in on speaking about LinkedIn selling techniques to reach decision makers. It helped me get selected as one of only six official LinkedIn Sales Training partners in North America. I also met some new best friends in Pro-Track. I still associate with them professionally and socially years later.
Now enrolling for 2014
If you have an interest in the business of professional speaking, there is still time to enroll in the 2014 program. I took the training myself and well remember my first class back in January 2006. It was an eye-opening experience. Check it out.