Ron Blackmore | Becoming a Professional Speaker
Our new episode of the Super U Podcast is live! The Super U Podcast delivers curated tips from top performers and thought leaders to help unlock and unleash your inner superpower. This week’s episode features tips from Ron Blackmore on how to become a professional speaker. Blackmore is a super agent who works with some of the world’s top entertainers and performers.
Click here to subscribe to the Super U Podcast. Need a sneak peek? Below are the main takeaways from Ron Blackmore|Becoming a Professional Speaker.
[0:45] Episode Intro — Welcoming Ron Blackmore
A good friend of Erik Qualman and a super agent, Ron Blackmore is the president of NextLevel Talent. He has booked comedians, artists, athletes, and thought leaders for events of all sizes. He’s scored entertainers like Jeff Foxworthy, Jay Leno, and Reba McEntire among others.
[1:40] The Business Side of Things
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 2 percent of companies survive after 10 years. Ron Blackmore has been in the business for 2 decades. NextLevel Talent is a non-exclusive bureau that aims to bring the best talent to their clients’ stages. According to Ron, a key element of success in business is building strong partnerships, both with clients who trust NextLevel Talent and with speakers and entertainers who hit home runs for those clients.
[3:34] Good vs. Great Keynote Speakers
The best speakers have a great topic that fits with the client’s goals and objectives. The best presenters must be willing to put in work even before the gig is secured by doing things like pre-booking calls to talk about the conference goals, objectives, challenges and opportunities. Super presenters aren’t just looking for a quick book but are willing to go the extra mile. They are curious about the client’s goals, the audience, how they can bring value, and forming a lasting partnership.
[4:48] Working with Mistakes
One time, Blackmore had a big name comedian scheduled to perform at corporate event in San Antonio, Texas. The comedian was flying from the West Coast, got stuck on a connecting flight in Dallas, and never made it to the show. After losing his star performer, Blackmore had to be creative by working with the host and the opening act who were already at the event. This is a great example of how to be FLAWsome and make the best out of our mistakes.
[6:55] How to Overdeliver
The true mark of talent who go above and beyond are those who overdeliver on their time. They give value-add by showing up before or after the event by leading a breakout, hosting a meet-and-greet, or having a book signing. They also dedicate time to their client by hopping on calls beforehand. They personally touch their audience by following up with those who mention them on social media.
Contract riders play an important role in making sure everything is lined up for talent leading up to the event and once the talent is on site. For example, Van Halen’s rider is known to include that all brown M&Ms be removed from his bowl. If Van Halen gets to the green room and notices brown M&Ms in his bowl, his team might worry that sound system and other things are out of order. Crazy examples like this serve as a test to see if the client has carefully read the rider’s notes. While Blackmore doesn’t have any wild stories, he understands the importance of having a rider to make the event the best. Erik Qualman’s team gives clients a “Helpful Tips” document to help support the process.
Persistence is key for speakers who are trying to get on Blackmore’s radar. If Blackmore sees multiple messages coming in from the same entertainer, he’ll probably take a minute to check that person out, especially if the message is eye-catching. He says he’s in the business of always looking for new talent. For long term clients, he wants to be able to pitch new talent instead of offering the same options over and over.
[13:13] Trending Conference Topics
According to Blackmore, the hottest conference topics are:
- Big Data
- Digital Leadership
[17:35] Blackmore’s Oldest Childhood Memory
Blackmore remembers playing ball in his backyard with a teenager when he was only 5 or 6-years-old and getting smashed in the face with the ball. Another time, he had to apologize for riding his bike over the neighbor’s shrubs.
[19:20] Morning Routine
Normally, Blackmore’s iPhone alarm goes off around 6:30 a.m. His wife is a school teacher who leaves the house before him, and he takes his children to the school. Sometimes, he gets a workout in on the treadmill before heading to work. He likes to listen to the Super U Podcast or watch golf during his workout.
[21:12] Team Sports
Blackmore’s background playing baseball has influenced his mindset as a businessperson. He always views projects as team tasks, whether that’s helping talent to deliver the best keynote or working with clients to put on a great event.
[21:54] Choosing Speaking Topics
Ideally, a speaker covers one topic and does so really well…but how many topics is too many? Blackmore says he’s seen a number of speakers who address multiple topics and succeed. This works really well if the topics are all in the same category and flow together. The most important thing is that they are knowledgeable and can deliver on those topics.
[25:05] Choosing Speaking Topics
If Blackmore could suggest one piece of work for everyone to digest, it would be the movie “Wonder.” The movie is based on the book by R. J. Palacio. He loves the story and the way the protagonist deals with adversity. The lesson on kindness was really powerful for him and his family.
[26:08] One Piece of Advice
If he were to text his 20-year-old self one thing, Blackmore would tell himself to take advantage of opportunities that are both given and earned. He would also tell himself to take advantage of resources, especially those on a college campus.
[27:00] Impostor Syndrome
Impostor syndrome happens when an individual doubts their accomplishments after finding themselves in a place of high success. Ron Blackmore experiences this when dealing with famous talent or hosting a high profile meet-and-greet. To overcome imposter syndrome, you need to hyper focus on the task at hand in order to deliver the best experience for the client and the audience.
[28:05] Conquering Doubt
Everyone has moments when they doubt their abilities. Blackmore started NextLevel Talent in 2006 after working for his stepfather who passed away in 2005. After dealing with the hardship that came from his stepfather’s death, he knew he could either sink or swim by starting his own business. Despite his fears, Blackmore dove in and started NextLevel Talent. When we move forward in spite of our doubts, positive things often happen.
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