Paid to Speak (with Kent Julian)
In this week's episode, we interviewed Kent Julian who shared all about the success of his own speaking business and how you find success as a speaker, too.
After 20 years in non-profit work, Kent changed directions and launched two successful businesses. Now, with his expertise in creating DREAM-to-DO work cultures, he is privileged to speak, write, and consult leaders and teams all over the country on the topics of employee engagement, leadership, and the multi-generational workforce.
Our summarized interview is below:
Tell us a little bit about yourself
My wife and I have been married 30 years and we have three children. I started out as a youth pastor in a very small church. That ministry grew, and we moved until we eventually served students in larger settings.
Then I became the national youth leader, which led to having a national platform to speak and write. It’s been about a 20 year journey, but along the way I began to sense God leading me out of full-time vocational ministry.
Tell us about how you made the transition from ministry in a local church to becoming an EntrePastor?
I actually launched a side business and was able to grow it over about three-year period to the place where I was able to leave that position. The transition was extremely positive, which was important to me.
But in my previous churches, one, I left extremely positive and the other was extremely negative.
For the last 13 years I've been full time in my own business. I'm a professional speaker and I’ve done multiple things for revenue--always with a ministry mindset, even though I'm not doing work in churches.
Since what you do is still ministry, what changed when you left vocational ministry? What is the same?
One thing that didn't change was our commitment to the local church. And so we have stayed very committed to the local church. We’re very involved. We serve and volunteer.
What’s changed is, I don't want to be in any high-level leadership positions. I want to be somebody who's in the trenches supporting the pastors.
I also still look for opportunities to share the gospel with people. But here's where I think it's the most interesting, especially for Entrepastors. How do you serve people with no strings attached?
For example, the way that I market my speaking services in particular is I market and serve with no strings attached, whether I ever get hired by an organization or not. That mindset actually gives me a huge marketing advantage compared to so many other speakers that I'm working, with because their number one desire is to get booked, get booked, get booked. They're pushing and pushing and pushing.
And my approach is more, “Let me give you something of value, whether you ever hire me or not.” And if I serve, I know God's going to take care of the other stuff I do.
Tell us about how you handled mindset issues around money. This sounds like a real leap of faith.
I love talking about his part.
This what's really interesting. At the first church I served, the board definitely had the mindset of, get them as cheaply as we can.
The second church that I served, their attitude was, “We really don't want your wife to work, and we pay in a way that she shouldn't have to work.” I thought that was great. That church lived up to their word and rewarded performance at a high level.
I’ve also worked in some church environments where people seemed to be rewarded by poor performance, and that really bugged me.
So I would say two things about our mindset toward money. First, my wife and I have been good stewards of what God gives us.
We've always lived below our means. From day one, when we first got married, and she didn't have a job. I made $12,000 a year. I don't have any problem with making more money because I just feel like it gives us more opportunities to steward it well.
Secondly, I’d say looking back, one of the benefits of being a pastor when I started my business was that I didn't make a lot of money. It was way easier to get to the point where I quit my full-time job, because I didn't have to replace a huge income.
It was a three-year process. And so we're talking back in 2005. When I started my first year with my side-hustle, working 15 to 20 hours a week on my side hustle, my total revenue for the first year was $4000. That's not profit; that's revenue. My next year, it was $245,000.
Now here's, what's interesting.
The first $6,000 of that $24,000, came in the first six months. So if you do the numbers, it was $10,000 for the first 18 months of business, total revenue. But the next six months was $18,000. So I pretty much doubled my income, in a third of the time. And then my third year we did $64,000 of revenue.
And that's when I got to the place where I said, “Hey, when I look at the money, I'm getting to the place where I haven't replaced my income, but I'm only doing this 15 to 20 hours a week, on the side. What f I gave it full-time attention?
I bet you, I could double that revenue and then I will have replaced my, my income; and so that's exactly how it happened; but when you think about those first 18 months, I didn't know if I could ever replace the income the next six months; but I did.
I think this could work. And so stick-to-itiveness is good when it comes to trying to start something on the side. And this becomes a great competitive advantage because most people give up after 12 months.
Also, in my position as a national youth director, we did a major conference every three years. One of the last ones I did was in Phoenix, and we rented out the Phoenix basketball arena and all the hotels around there. And held a five-day conference where we'd have 7000 to 8000 people come in and it was a major, major multi-million dollar event.
And I knew if I were to quit my position within 18 months before that event, it would not serve my denomination well. I'd put a new guy in an impossible position to do that event. And so that event was July, 2007. I started my business in 2005; so I decided I needed to quit sometime in the first six months of 2000, or I'm going to have to stay on another three years.
That was a huge motivation for me to make this work.
So this didn’t happen overnight, right? It sounds as if there have been twists and turns along the way but you’ve learned as you moved forward.
For me and others I know, this is about a five-year experience.
So for all your guys and gals that are thinking about branching out, you will pivot. I like to say it this way. Number one, I lead my business in my life by two things. I have a compass, which is like my purpose statement. It’s a written document. It points to my true north that points to my relationship with God and the things I value.
I look at my compass every week to remind myself this is the true north in my life.
Also, I have a map, and my map doesn't look like the compass. It looks like a treasure map. If you can just picture a map, and up in the corner is the X marks the spot, that's what I'm trying to get to.
But to be honest with you, at first I did't even know what that was. I kind of knew. And so when I first started I thought, “I want to have a six figure business; have freedom financially and vocationally; I want to be speaking.” It was kind of like that. Then I put certain landmarks on the map, and just headed toward that landmark.
So it might have been a speaking engagement in a professional setting that was a landmark on my map. I really focused on trying to get there. It's like a treasure map where you're just kind of following the breadcrumbs to get there.
Then when I got to that landmark (let's say it was represented by mountains) I could see all kinds of new things. I could see new landmarks that were going to get me closer to X marks the spot on my map.
So that's kind of how I envision the journey. And in this whole entrepreneur life, you pivot like crazy. Some people are afraid of that, but don't be afraid, because when you get to a certain landmark, the pivot's going to make more sense than what you thought at the beginning.
Call to Action
The above is a summary of longer conversation so to hear the entire podcast please feel free to listen to the entire podcast by clicking on the podcast player at the top of this post.
If speaking on stages to create sources of income sounds appealing to you, there are multiple ways to do it.
Kent has generously offered a free resource. Just go to https://paidtospeakpodcast.com/9ways
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