We need more women representation in the speaking platform. Kim Hayden sits in with a powerful advocate for women, Jen Buck. She’s an award-winning keynote speaker and trainer for high-performing leaders. Jen talks with Kim about how you need to be willing to change because the world changes. In this hybrid world, learn to adapt and pivot. Research as much as you can and get a coach. Live streaming, camera angles, the energy of movement are some of the things you need to learn. Don’t be afraid to go all the way in and follow your purpose. Dive into this episode!
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/Jenbuckspeaks
The HERstory Collaborative online academy for women: https://the-herstory-collaborative.teachable.com/p/home
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Jen Buck Speaks: Being An Advocate For Women And How Empowered Women Can Change The World
Welcome to the show where I spotlight these amazing leaders, speakers, coaches, and all with the common thread of resilience. Webster’s dictionary defines resilience as capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation or rupture, tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.
Let me tell you that the guest we have is a woman who is truly resilient. This is a woman who, when the pandemic hit, literally was stopped dead in her tracks and in her business and go, “What am I doing now?” She has made it work and she is here to share with us the way that she has taken determination, grit, brought it back around, and has actually improved on her long-year career.
Jen Buck is a professional speaker for many years and focuses on advocating, activating, and amplifying high-performing women. She speaks keynotes and trainings around the world and has an online training academy called The HERstory Collaborative. She is a best-selling author, has written six books, has a podcast, a webcast, a TV show, which is seen in 50 countries worldwide, and focuses on the trailblazing women who are changing their corner of the world. She is going to give us all absolute inspiration and insight.
Welcome, Jen. How are you?
I am doing great. I am so glad to be here. Thanks for having me.
You are a long time in a speaking career. Is that trailblazing yourself as a female speaker? Can you give us the background as to who you are? What do you focus on speaking and a little bit of your journey?
I am a bit of an OG in this space. I remember when I turned 50, a friend of mine said to me, “You are now an elder.” I was so upset about that, then she said, “Stop. You have made it to that space where you have been in your career a long time. You have the accomplishments.” I’m settling into being an OG and an elder, but I started young. The truth is I was eighteen and I was going to college at that time, not doing well, and running amuck. My mom brought me to a women’s conference and that event changed my life.
I knew instantly that the lightning bolt was striking and that was what I was supposed to do. It was Joan Rivers, who was the keynote speaker. She is my favorite human, but at that time, I did not know who she was. I asked my mom, “Who is the old broad?” It was so early in my life. I was eighteen. At that point, I knew that that is what I was supposed to do. I was a college student, a waitress at Chili’s, and I started telling every couple and family that came in that I was going to be a motivational speaker.Nothing is permanent, so you have to be willing to pivot. Click To Tweet
It took about two months and I got called, believe it or not, from a startup. This is now an internationally known billion-dollar award-winning global brand. I helped launch that brand for the first ten years of its inception. I was there in the beginning. That is when I got the job at eighteen to be a trainer for them. That started everything and the whole launch of my career. I was there and I have been doing this for so many years.
That is what I have been doing. This is the irony of all of it after spending ten years at the startup, which is Discover Card. After I spent ten years there, I was hired to go and work as a speaker at the women’s conference. It came full circle within that ten-year period and I spent seven years on that platform traveling around. It was amazing and incredible, and it was like a rolling sorority. I have since then built an entire career off that. That is the whole story in a nutshell.
Let me ask you because there are a lot of startups. There is a lot of stuff going on and a lot of movement. What are the key things that you saw within Discover or that startup that you go, “Okay.” I’m guessing with a startup, the money was not huge.
I was eighteen and I did not know what I was doing. They must have been desperate to hire. If you think about this, an eighteen-year-old, who was still in college to be a trainer for their leaders, was crazy. At that time, they had so much money that we were on yachts, wined and dined, staying at five-star resorts, and we were constantly literally poured into. It was all about the energy, staying so loyal, and being so totally in.
What I learned most at that time is that nothing is permanent. That lesson has become a true north throughout my life. Nothing is permanent. No matter what it is, whether it is life, family, death loss, marriage, major emotional devastation, a process, a project, or the amount of time you have put into something. You have to be willing to pivot, shift and do things differently on a dime. That was the greatest lesson I learned in those ten years there.
That lesson, I’m guessing, did come in handy when all of a sudden, the world stopped. This time has felt much like the old classic movie, The Day the Earth Stood Still. When you talk about pivot, I know that you have the triple-A look at your business, the activate and amplify. Can you share with me the lessons that you put forward and how you pivoted? How do you go from an in-person coach or a speaker, and that is your moneymaker? I do not know in your home, but in my home, I’m pretty much the front end of the money. If I’m not working, the money is not coming in. You got to love these men who are not afraid.
When the pandemic happened, thankfully, my guy rallied, stepped up to the plate, and hit a home run. I had very little to worry about in that respect but I have spent all these years in front of audiences. That is how I shaped my moneymaker and got all of my leads. My events come from that platform. It jumps me into people’s corporations and working with their CEOs, and all of a sudden, everything is gone. It was not just the gig. It was the stream of events, trainings, coachings, and all the things that come with it. All leads were gone overnight.
I struggled like every other speaker I know. There are very few of us left. It has been an interesting and sad time for me to see how many speakers have left the speaking industry and have retired, gone into corporate training, or just moved and pivoted. I knew I could not afford to keep the people employed who were running my front end, backend, and all the technical. I could not do it anymore because there was no income. I also knew that everything was transitioning to digital, and I had nothing. I had no digital whatsoever. I think I had 700 people following me on Instagram. That was my big win, the 700 people.
I had to learn about social media, digital content, creating a newsletter and funnel. I did not have any of it, and when I say none of it, not even a YouTube. I had nothing because I did not need it. At that time, I was just cruising on easy street. Based on the in-person events, as it turns out, I went into full learning mode that year. I went into a space of consuming so much content, taking so many courses, learning how to use these social media systems and platforms as lead magnets and money generators. I really had to learn, but I also did something interesting that was very different. I did not know anybody else doing this. I contacted every one of my clients and I said, “As long as we are in lockdown, you get everything for free.”
I gave away all free training, all free keynotes, all free coaching, all free everything. We started doing fireside chats once a month with the leadership teams where we just all get on Zoom and talk about what is going on. Every single thing, I did not make one penny. That is why I say, “Thank goodness, my guy jumped up and carried us.” He did. He was great, but I thought that it was important for me not to become a vulture and try to pull every dime out of my customers and clients who were dying on the vine themselves. It ended up paying off. 2021 hit and then it was off to the races again.You have to be willing to change because the world changes. Click To Tweet
That is a true sight of service. Also, having been in real estate for years, that is top of mind. They may not be able to buy now, but they are still looking. If you are in front of them, you are available and contributing. That is really important. First thing I want to ask before I even go down the rabbit hole. When you are in front of a person interactive, how do you maintain your energy where it transitions over the different platforms or you are interfacing through the computer? I know for myself that is one of my greatest personal struggles. It is my energy and human-ness. Share with us your energy, and then we are going to come back to my rabbit hole.
For me, energy is one of those things that are in abundance, so I do a lot of talking. Right now, I’m not using too much gestures like I normally do. Energy is on fire here in general. You are right. Being on camera, you have to be way more contained. It is what you and I know about working in front of a camera. Your gestures can only be so big and all of those rules that we have. I do not pay attention. I am all in. I use all the gestures and I move around. One of the things I’m doing now with my clients is actually doing the training and keynotes, the ones that are virtual and out of a studio.
I’m standing, on a set, moving around, and I have got the two camera shots. I have a team that is following me because that is the way we truly transcend and make this hybrid world really feel like it is real. It is by having that energy of movement. It is somewhat restrictive, but I still use all the energy and have all the crazy gestures and whatnot. I will say that I think getting back to working in a studio and actually being big onstage takes it to another level. That is what we want. We want all that authentic, wonderful energy.
We will have a new group of speakers coming up. I was talking to a gal out of New Jersey. She has been a coach for six years in sexuality and spirituality. It is actually a really interesting field. However, when we work and we constantly work in the same pool, we can exhaust our opportunities. If you are not out connecting and networking, you are not encountering the opportunities to meet and connect with the people that could pay you for your expertise.
One of the things I asked her was, “Do you have a speakers bureau? What are you doing?” She does acting in New Jersey and the New York area. I think everybody there has acted at some point in time. When we are looking with these new crops of speakers coming up, especially with us wanting to see more women in this space, what are some of the things that you would suggest from the speaker bureau and how to get connected in a world that is just starting to come online? There are still several countries that are very restricted. What are some of the things that you would advise this 30 or 25-year-old female who wants to become a recognized speaker?
The first thing I would say is to get a coach. Get someone who has been there, done that. Get someone who can just walk you through and can give you a list like, “You need these things. Look at this. Go down to this vendor and do this. Even if it is online or remotely, try this and work on that.” If somebody is going to move through it on their own, tthey are going to need to have their speaker assets that are in place. I can tell you on my website, www.JenBuckSpeaks.com, if you go to the Event Planner page, you will see that I have all my assets. It is twelve different downloadable, fully-branded individual documents.
That goes from my bio to my speaker list, my keynotes, and my background. You name it. It is all there. They want to know all of that. They do not want it in one document. They used to like everything in one marketing package or kit. They want to have everything separated and having those speaker assets done is important.
Another thing I would say is that you have to have a speaker reel and your speaker reel needs to be five minutes. There needs to be a real role in it. There needs to be you on stage and they need to see you at different levels of energy. They want to see, “Can you speak in front of a small intimate group, a medium group, or mega groups?” That means that many people are going to need to start speaking for free because you do not have your own assets, so it is hard to get those gigs.
The last thing I would say is to get on eSpeakers. It is a website where bureaus will use it for the backend of their website. The front end is all we are speakers bureau 1, 2, 3, but the backend is 100% eSpeakers. When you get on there, you get these speakers bureaus from all over the world that are looking for women in leadership.
I happened to come up as number three in women in leadership. I know that it is not just the speakers bureaus. I have got twenty speakers bureaus right now that I have a relationship with who sell me. There are hundreds and hundreds who are using eSpeakers. It is really about making sure you have your speaker assets, so you can set up your profile on eSpeakers because you want to have all of that on that as well.
As I mentioned earlier, my gig over the last few years is the production of television shows and they always throw me in the front because I’m the cheapest and easiest they can find. Being an American in Canada, they all go, “She is unique.” It just means loud. I’m learning from you as you are speaking because I end up speaking when people need somebody to speak on community and resilience. Those are my niche things. That is all in the local.
I do know that a great opportunity a lot of speakers do not look at is getting time in front of high school students. It is a great audience and all you have to do is say, “I’m open to speak. This is what I speak on. If you want your high school students, I would like to bring a cameraman in.” Everything you do and every time you speak, you should be documented because a good speaker reel is anywhere between $10,000 and $40,000. The more you can bring to it, it makes the more cohesive storyline.You have to be careful with what message you share, how you say it, and where you’re sharing. Click To Tweet
There are also lots of retirement communities. I’m talking about the ones where you have people who are very active. I’m not necessarily talking about a group that is in a rehabilitative space, but when you go into these robust retirement communities, they need people to speak about different things that they have. They are not looking to put a $5,000, $10,000, or $20,000 speaker on stage. They are looking for someone from the community who wants to give back again. It is another audience. Churches are another audience. There are ways to get out there. Even on eSpeakers, they have free events where people are looking for speakers all the time.
Here is another one. Google “call for speakers.” Every website, bureau, or planner that is looking for a speaker who has “call for speakers” on their website, you are going to pull it. There is the button and there is the submission form, and you have your speaker assets ready. You are ready to drop it in and hit submit. A lot of people overlook these things. The information is out there. You have to constantly play around with it and look for where the leads are and where can you find things?
A lot of times, people are waiting for the business to come to them. You have to realize that as a professional speaker, you are 100% an entrepreneur, and that means you have to go and find your business. There is this pay-to-play. Everybody goes, “Pay-to-play is not earned.” The reality is that there is a cost involved everywhere. Unless you are Mel Robbins, Oprah, or Michelle Obama, if you are an emerging speaker or not at more than twenty years, there may be a cost associated with the stage. That is absolutely fair. As somebody who hosts the stages and such, an in-person stage done right is a couple of hundred thousand dollars.
If that person cannot sell all the tickets to offset the speaker, they have to then bring in a keynote that will help sell. I was talking to a couple of very well-known keynotes that have had a movie named after them and things like that. It is $30,000 to $40,000, which is understandable because you have a finite window to make your money. It is all a business. What would you say is the common misconception in the speaking world when it comes to moving up and building on what are the opportunities that the things that they may see in the business?
A common misconception is that speaking is something that anyone can do because they can talk. Professional speaking is not public speaking. They are two very different things. Anybody can publicly speak. Much like being a dancer or being an author, we have the ability to write and move our feet. To do it professionally, it does take an understanding of the mechanics, the expectation, the art of storytelling, and taking the classes on not only telling a story but how to land humor. These are things I have had to spend years developing. It is not just about being perky and passionate. It is about understanding the mechanics of being a speaker. It is also something that you have to be willing to constantly change because the world changes.
While I think I’m wildly cool, I do not know if my 24 year old thinks that I’m the coolest on the planet. She does think I’m a cool mom, but she does not think I’m 24 and I have to be able to speak that language. I have to know what is cool and what the pulse is because my audiences are not all 50. My audiences are going to be these up-and-comers, movers, and shakers that are 20, 30, early-40s, and these people who absolutely have a different language, way of living, and expectation of how things should look.
You are constantly changing. Even though you have this identification, I’m a speaker who speaks on resilience. The way you use language has to change constantly. It is a lot of learning, investigating, and research because you can’t step on stage and say something along the lines of, “I sound like a broken record.”
It can’t be the exact same thing. Otherwise, if you say only the same thing every single time, which was very much like the ‘80s and ‘90s, get your one who can talk and it is your talk every single time. I do know that there are some keynotes out there who said you cannot take a video of them because it is the same talk they are going to do the next time.
If you think about what I said, it is not just that. I can’t say the phrase, “Like a broken record,” because there are only a few of us over 40 who are going to understand that. You and I are basically the last generations that listened to records regularly as the norm. You have to have your finger on the pulse, always be adjusting, pivoting, changing, and going with what is happening because you do not want to become that person who only is a one-hit-wonder, has one thing to say, and can only do one lane. There is so much work out there for brilliant people. If you are able to be broad but understand where your niche too. That niche is still very important, but you have got to be broad and flexible enough to understand the importance of the pivot.Go all the way in and follow your purpose. Click To Tweet
You are a six-time author but you have not written a book in a while. What is something that you would write now that you think belongs in one of your books? Share with us one of the books that you have written that you are very proud of and what would you add to it from your experiences?
I put a book out. It is called Glow Up!. It is all about utilizing this whole concept of livestreaming to get your message out there. What I would like to do is add to that and maybe create a series around Glow Up! that is all meant to be for women and getting women to move forward. What I would like to spend more time on has to do with the bravery that is needed to get in front of that camera and microphone. That deep bravery is the old stories, failures, and thoughts that keep us from moving in a great direction where we are all doing this right now. Livestreaming like you and I are connecting.
I already know I like you. I know that just by looking at you. Women need to recognize that there is so much power in this. You have the ability to make such an impact and create this reverberation. That is the piece that I left out of that. I was so focused on getting the facts, details, and info out there that I wish I had spent a little more time on that. I keep telling myself I’m going to go back and add to it or do some type of epilogue because I think that piece was overlooked.
I see this interesting duality with women. We have younger women coming up and they have been hearing like, “Do not give it away or do not do it for free. Demand the money.” They will come out of the box when they are starting their social media company or a consulting company. They are going, “I’m going to get $65 an hour,” yet they do not have anything to prove that. A lot of the older women were raised with this, “Sit properly in church, ladies. Do not behave that way,” then there is a lot of this negative self-talk. It is almost like we have this overabundance of confidence at one side that does not have a lot of experience.
We have the feeling of Imposter syndrome on the other side. Statistically speaking, when they pull people who go to see speakers, men in the majority will go to a male speaker or male coach, and women, 50% of the time, will identify a male coach or a male speaker. That means 25% of the audience will intentionally seek out a female speaker or a female coach.
Two questions here. If we have this duality of confidence but no credibility or credentials, and we have these incredible credentials and women who have just busted it, yet do not maybe have the competence to step on stage, then we have a small pool of people who will intentionally seek these women out. What are some of the solutions you could see that would help our planners change their language on their copy to attract an audience and help the young women get their credentials and the older women get their confidence? I see it as this trifecta of the reason we do not have enough women on our stages.
Here is what we have going on. We have so many male speakers compared to female speakers. We also have a huge disparity in what men have been paid in their speaker fees versus what women are paid. I have right on my website Reasons To Hire Jen Buck. One of them is, “It is because she is a woman and we need more representation on that platform than seeing a bunch of dudes.”
I throw it right out there. It is ridiculous that we have so few women but we have 8 men and 1 woman on a stage. I have lived through this for many years being the only woman on a stage, so it is not okay. It needs to change, but what also needs to happen is there needs to be this upswell in women with their confidence and their ability to say, “I am worth this.”
I have a guy that I started speaking with way back when, and we have spoken exactly the same. We even share a lot of the same clients. We are on a lot of the same platforms. I finally decided to look at what he was charging. Keep in mind all are the same. We are talking twenty-plus years and he was charging $5,000 more than I was. I had to think about this. I have more books, an online platform, and my client list is larger now. I realized I was in this space where I was undervaluing myself.
There is a huge need for women to come out and say, “I am worth this.” I get speaker stats every day and when I look at my speaker stats, I can see exactly what my fee is versus all other women. The average is I’m 40% higher than every other woman speaking in my industry. Not every, but the average. Do you know why I’m 40% more? I have done 40% more because I have helped and created this massive behemoth in the startup I was a part of. I have created businesses. I have two nonprofits, I sit on boards, and I do more.
You also asked for it. A lot of women do not ask for it. We have been programmed and trained to keep giving, especially the both of us are over that 35 mark. We give to our children, community, partner, employer, family, and crazy uncle. Three times I moved and I’m just as guilty.
It is a paradigm change because, for some reason, we equate asking for more for ourselves as being somehow less that can be given to others.
Do you know many times I hear women say, “I do it for free?” I’m now like, “The bank does not let you live in your house for free.” I was talking to a gal and she does not have, as you were mentioning, those credibilities and assets in place. We were talking and I said, “Let me ask you, what is your goal? What do you want to make next year or in this year 2022?” She goes, “I would like to make $150,000.” I said, “Is that all? That is doable.” I understand that I live in a very different world because I am in the top 10% earning real estate in North America. I have always been very high numbers, so I work in large numbers, but I still do not think that that is a lot to ask for.
I’m looking at her going, “That is doable. Let me ask you this. If you stuck to your guns, you asked for the money and you made that money. Who would you empower? What change would you create and who would you support?” She goes, “I would do this and this.” Isn’t it selfish or negligent almost not to ask for the money that you are educated in and you can get? Those people are counting on you. They just do not know it yet.
It is much like in the world of professional speaking. Because you are a professional speaker, if you are in media and in front of a camera, you are a professional speaker. You may not be a stage speaker, but you are a professional speaker. You understand that, even though it seems very strange that people in this professional speaking roller paid this much money. The truth is we are the messengers and there is a sense of responsibility with the messengers. You have got to be careful with what you do, how you say it, where you are sharing, how much you are sharing, and the energy you bring.'Well behaved women seldom make history.' - Lauren Thatcher Ulrich Click To Tweet
Messengers are paid a lot of money, and I know that seems strange and backward, but it is true. To undervalue yourself at this point makes no sense because you are stepping into an industry that is known for paying messengers very well. There is something there that is hard for women. I see it every day when I’m looking at speaker stats and I see their fee, and I think, “This woman has been doing it for as long as I have. She has just as many speaker assets. What in the world?” She is asking for half of what I do and I know that I’m in the right place.
If you are coming from an employee world or a work world and have not read Rich Dad Poor Dad, you need to get on that. It is important because you need to know the four quadrants of where your money goes to and comes from. Being a speaker, which you found having those assets moves you over into the business owner, you are still self-employed. It is time in, money out. The bigger the speaking, the more people you have to employ. It is the same as real estate. Time in, money out. Most people go, “You are going to make $40,000 off the sell of my house.” The reality is I’m going to pay $20,000 to sell your house because this is where all the money goes and this is my staff.
Maybe we could do that whole credibility and understanding the business side of speaking. Everybody wants to run in because everybody has got a passion or a message, but the reality is it is a business. You need to know how to run the back end in order to ensure that when the zombie apocalypse happens and we go all behind the screen again, you still have revenue. Although you did come right out of the gate and take the bull by the horns, what would be the advice in the first three steps for somebody new coming in or a young person wanting to come into speaking?
I’m one of those people that says, “Go all the way in. Follow that purpose. You were given that spark for a reason.” Every one of us is on some level of messenger but we do it differently. If you feel that your message is that big, do not listen to one other person’s advice because you were the one that was given the talent to carry through your lifetime. They were not given it and do not have the advice for you. Unless you are speaking to another speaker who can tell you exactly what steps to take, go all in. Your message was given to you for a reason.
Can you share with us what is the North Star quote when the chips are down or things are spinning? What is your quote?
“Chin up, shoulders back, march.” That was from my grandmother who raised three girls. I was the only girl in our family of seven boys. I’m not the very youngest, but I’m at the bottom of the heap. I only have one younger cousin younger than me, but the only girl and seven boys. That was what my grandmother raised my aunts with and my mom. It is what was given to me as I was being pummeled by seven boys at any given moment. That goes along with that whole idea of you have to be willing to pivot because nothing is permanent.
Progress over perfection, every time. Do not be afraid of imperfections because it is what makes your story amazing. Can you share with us everywhere we can find you? How can we support you, align with you, and where can we listen to you?
I am on every single social media platform. Even the ones that are for twenty-year-olds, I’m on those too. I am @JenBuckSpeaks everywhere. If you look up @JenBuckSpeaks on any platform, you will find me. My website is www.JenBuckSpeaks.com and I have got lots of freebies that I give away. If you are interested in lots of fun and cool things, you can find those at www.JenBuck.rocks. My organization is called The HERstory Collaborative. You can go to www.TheHERStoryCollaborative.com, and that is online learning. It is virtual learning at your own pace and it is an academy for women to help women get into those spaces of leadership and power. Right now, there are twelve different affordable courses on there for women to take.
What is fascinating is when I saw that associated with your name, I did not realize that it was you because I have received messages through social media. I have had people forward things from social media from HERstory.
There is another Jen. I love her and we are pals. She has an organization called Her Stories.
Somebody sent something to me and said, “Check this out.” It just all came together. You are absolutely making things happen if random people in Canada are getting messages sent to them saying, “Check this out.” You will be working well into your 80s and chin up, shoulder backs, marching right in. If we can all learn something from Betty White, do not retire. You will live forever as long as you do not retire. She was one of my absolute favorites, like your Joan Rivers and all these incredible women. We have got big shoes to fill. I’m looking forward to seeing all the young women after us.
Jen, thank you so much for sharing your time, your energy, and your insight with us. I’m sure people are going to be reaching out, wanting to get more information from you. In the meantime, until the next up drops. I am so grateful that you took your time, the most valuable, non-renewable resource that you have, and you shared it with me. Out of all the crazy people in this gin joint, you chose me to spend your time with. I am ever grateful. Until next time, remember your past does not define your future and you must be resilient. That is one foot in front of the other and makes things happen. I’m with KimTalks.club and check us out at www.ResilientSeries.com.
- Jen Buck
- The HERstory Collaborative – Online Academy
- Joan Rivers
- Glow Up!
- Reasons To Hire Jen Buck
- Rich Dad Poor Dad
- @JenBuckSpeaks – Instagram
- @JenBuckSpeaks – Twitter
- @JenBuckSpeaks – Facebook
- @JenBuckSpeaks – Clubhouse
- @JenBuckSpeaks – LinkedIn
- YouTube – Jen Buck Speaks
About Jen Buck
I’m a high-performance Speaker, Executive Strategist, and Bestselling Author, with six published books. My podcast, The HERstory Collaborative, can be heard on all podcast platforms and the TV show is now seen on 50 channels worldwide.
I’m high energy and fast moving and I love seeing people thrive in their genius zone. My superpower is in creating the dots between where you are performing now and getting you to where you want to be, as quickly as possible.