Mic Drop

Exactly What to Say (ft. Phil Jones)

Episode Summary

In this week’s episode, speaker and Exactly What to Say author Phil Jones covers a wide range of topics, including how he jumped from his previous business to professional speaking, how he's evolved as a speaker, and how he created one of the best selling audiobooks in history.

Episode Notes

Exactly What to Say (ft. Phil Jones)

How to be a perfectionist and an improviser all at once


“... woke up seven days later, 120,000 free downloads. I'm like, okay, I might have something.”

-Phil Jones


Phil Jones has founded not one but five multimillion dollar companies, became the youngest ever winner of the British Excellence of Sales and Marketing Award, and produced the most listened to nonfiction audiobook of all time, Exactly What to Say? Phil entered the business world at age 14 and went from a bucket and sponge to a fleet of car washing employees that led him to earning more at age 15 than his high school teachers.

When it comes to speaking industry experience, Phil has given over 2,500 presentations across 57 countries and 5 continents. Beyond his business success, he's the proud dad of twins and is passionate about making a positive impact by elevating everyone around him.



[6:04] - The Power of “How”

When someone’s better than you, get curious

Ever since his days working for his dad’s self-employed building business, Phil has been intensely curious and active about finding out how people find success. As he says, “Success leaves clues, and if you’re brave enough to follow the clues, then chances are it might work out well for you.”

So when you come across someone who does what you do better than you do, don’t get mad — get curious. Ask them how.

[21:50] - Big Idea vs. Proven Method

What kind of book is in you?

If you have a big idea, you can certainly go after a book deal and try to make a name for yourself through that big idea. But many speakers, Phil argues, would be better served by a “proven method” book. Something that's going to live with you, that will serve as your IP. Something that is your signature calling card. As Phil says: “John Bonjovi can write as much new music as he likes, but people are going to remember him for Living on a Prayer.

[23:45] - Don’t Rest on Your Laurels

Make something great? Time to remake it.

Phil shares one quick but powerful insight that’s important not to miss — once “Exactly What to Say” became a massive success, he didn’t simply leave it alone. He began creating new editions for every print run. New call-to-actions, new lead magnets, new thank-you pages. All of these changes happen again and again, ensuring that his ideas remain as fresh and relevant as they were in the first edition.

This concept can be applied to books, keynote speeches, career strategies — anything that you’ve found that works doesn’t need to become stagnant.

[32:37] - What Matters Most Happens Offstage

Service, relationships, and humanity

Phil says that the biggest aspect of winning and sustaining a career as a speaker comes down to the more “intangible” things: health, relationships, boundaries. These things are all more important than fees and tactical business decisions. Meanwhile, keeping a service mindset is essential — no matter how many millions of audiobooks you sell.


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Hear from the world’s top thought leaders and experts, sharing tipping point moments, strategies, and approaches that led to their speaking career success. Throughout each episode, host Josh Linkner, #1 Innovation keynote speaker in the world, deconstructs guests’ Mic Drop moments and provides tactical tools and takeaways that can be applied to any speaking business, no matter it’s starting point. You'll enjoy hearing from some of the top keynote speakers in the industry including: Ryan Estis, Alison Levine, Peter Sheahan, Seth Mattison, Cassandra Worthy, and many more. Mic Drop is sponsored by ImpactEleven.

Learn more at: MicDropPodcast.com


Josh Linkner is a Creative Troublemaker. He believes passionately that all human beings have incredible creative capacity, and he’s on a mission to unlock inventive thinking and creative problem solving to help leaders, individuals, and communities soar. 

Josh has been the founder and CEO of five tech companies, which sold for a combined value of over $200 million and is the author of four books including the New York Times Bestsellers, Disciplined Dreaming and The Road to Reinvention. He has invested in and/or mentored over 100 startups and is the Founding Partner of Detroit Venture Partners.

Today, Josh serves as Chairman and Co-founder of Platypus Labs, an innovation research, training, and consulting firm. He has twice been named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and is the recipient of the United States Presidential Champion of Change Award. 

Josh is also a passionate Detroiter, the father of four, is a professional-level jazz guitarist, and has a slightly odd obsession with greasy pizza. 

Learn more about Josh: JoshLinkner.com


From refining your keynote speaking skills to writing marketing copy, from connecting you with bureaus to boosting your fees, to developing high-quality websites, producing head-turning demo reels, Impact Eleven (formerly 3 Ring Circus) offers a comprehensive and powerful set of services to help speakers land more gigs at higher fees. 

Learn more at: impacteleven.com


In Detroit, history was made when Barry Gordy opened Motown Records back in 1960. More than just discovering great talent, Gordy built a systematic approach to launching superstars. His rigorous processes, technology, and development methods were the secret sauce behind legendary acts such as The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.

As a nod to the past, Detroit Podcast Studios leverages modern versions of Motown’s processes to launch today’s most compelling podcasts. What Motown was to musical artists, Detroit Podcast Studios is to podcast artists today. With over 75 combined years of experience in content development, audio production, music scoring, storytelling, and digital marketing, Detroit Podcast Studios provides full-service development, training, and production capabilities to take podcasts from messy ideas to finely tuned hits. 

Here’s to making (podcast) history together.

Learn more at: DetroitPodcastStudios.com


Episode Transcription

Phil Jones:

... woke up seven days later, 120,000 free downloads. I'm like, okay, I might have something.

Josh Linkner:

Hey, Mic Drop enthusiasts, Josh Linkner here. Delighted to be bringing you season two of Mic Drop. I love our conversations with speakers and industry leaders alike so we can unpack the industry and we can all perform better. Let's get after it and get better together.

Maria Cairo:

Mic Drop is brought to you by ImpactEleven, the most diverse and inclusive community built for training and developing professional speakers to get on bigger stages at higher fees with greater impact, faster. They're not just elevating an industry that we all know and love, they work with thousands of speakers to launch and scale their speaking businesses, accelerating time to success, earning tens of millions in speaking fees, landing bureau representation, securing book deals, and rising to the top of the field. To learn more about the ImpactEleven community, schedule a free strategy session today by visiting ImpactEleven.com/connect. That's ImpactE-L-E-V-E-N.com/connect.

Josh Linkner:

I first met today's guest many years ago at an event in New York where we were both keynoting. I became an instant fan and a friend. After today's episode you'll see why so many are drawn to the remarkable Phil M. Jones. After all, how many people have founded not one, but five multimillion dollar companies, or become the youngest ever winner of the British Excellence of Sales and Marketing Award or produced the most listened to nonfiction audiobook of all time? That audiobook is, Exactly What to Say, by the way. He entered the business world at age 14 and went from a bucket and sponge to a fleet of car washing employees that led him to earning more at age 15 than his high school teachers.

Okay. Okay. But what about speaking industry experience? Well, do you consider over 2,500 presentations across 57 countries and 5 continents, enough experience? Beyond his business success, he's the proud dad of twins, just like me. He's also passionate about making a positive impact and elevating everyone around him. In today's chat, Phil and I cover a range of topics, how he jumped from his previous business to professional speaking, how he's evolved as a speaker, and how he created one of the most bestselling audiobooks in history. Let's drop in with the guy who knows exactly what to say.

Phil Jones, welcome to Mic Drop.

Phil Jones:

Hey, good to be here, Josh.

Josh Linkner:

So I've been really looking forward to our conversation. I've been a big fan of yours since we first met years ago back in New York, where I know you are today. As I recall, it was New York City, you and I were speaking at the same event along with our good friend Carey Lohrenz. And wow, a lot's happened since that time. [inaudible 00:03:12]-

Phil Jones:


Josh Linkner:

But I wanted to start with, I know we've been on a similar path, but how are you a different speaker now today than you were the day that you and I first met back in New York?

Phil Jones:

How am I a different speaker today? What a great question, thanks for kicking us off there. I think in many ways I'm looser, would be a word that I'd probably use. Where I carry a level of preparation that is greater, but I'm freer in the way that I might bring myself towards the work. A level of confidence that is a lot more assured than where I would've been back then. And we're probably talking 2016, 2017, that point back in New York, and I remember it pretty well because I was bouncing out for a wedding rehearsal just after it, so that's what was happening at that point. So definitely looser, definitely more experienced, more tenured.

And much of that comes down to the backstage experience of working with bigger events, working with the challenges and changes that come with those bigger events, like being moved around on agendas or being told you've got 90 minutes and then being told you've got 75, and then being told you've got 60, and then rolling out and finding out there's 32 minutes on the clock. Those number of things have changed the way I speak. And also a lot more playful as a speaker, I think in terms of, I do a lot of crowd work. I'm very happy to be able to improvise in the moments and I've started to be able to create more and more of my own challenges in performance that just make the job that much more enjoyable for me by raising my own stakes at every event.

Josh Linkner:

It makes a lot of sense, and a lot of that comes, as you mentioned, from experience and ultimately mastery of the work. As you know, I play jazz music and you're first learning to play jazz you're barely able to play a single chord and you're just trying to get through it. Eventually, as you have a little bit more mastery and command of both the instrument and music itself, you're able to be more free and more loose and more playful and improvise and take risks, and that sounds exactly like it's happening for you.

So taking us way back, another commonality that I read that you and I shared. So you started at 14 years old you were washing cars. When I was 14 I was pedaling my bike to work at a gas station here in Detroit. So we both come from humble beginnings. But these days, look, man, you're a proper celebrity thought leader, you've done over 2,500 keynotes, you're breakaway bestselling author. What I wanted to know is back when you were 14, what are some of the thoughts or characteristics or principles that you had that in retrospect helped enable the incredible success that you've enjoyed?

Phil Jones:

I think I was always prepared to do the work before the work. That's always been true in my life is I've never had a pay me and I'll do it mindset. I've always had a I'll do it and then get paid. That's existed in me since as far back as I can remember and been remarkably helpful.

The other thing that has been particularly helpful to me that was true back then, and it is perhaps even more true today, is that I've always been ridiculously curious. I've looked up towards peers and mentors in all different areas of my life. And anytime I've ever met anybody who's better at anything than me, I've never said, wow. I've always asked the question, how?How did they do what they do? How do you manage to be able to achieve this? So if I was working on a project, like my dad's a self-employed builder, if I was working and helping my dad out and we're in a fancy house in a fancy part of town and that the guy drives a nice car, I'd be taking the time to find out what he does for work and what some of his early actions are and would be trying to find out things about success and learn that success leaves clues, and if you're brave enough to follow those clues, then chances are it might work out well for you. So those things in particular were very true back then in my early years and equally true today.

Josh Linkner:

I couldn't agree more. You then went on, you were, as I understand, sales professional, you did a couple other things. And I had a background in other stuff too, ultimately, both of us entered the wild and strange and exotic and terrifying and delightful world of professional speaking. How did you make that leap? What called you to share this message on your heart? And how did you transition from not being a professional speaker to becoming one?

Phil Jones:

Yeah. My journey into professional speaking is an interesting one because I've been speaking in a number of areas in my career from as far back as I can remember. And my professional career past early entrepreneurship was that I was in department store retail, I was opening department stores around the UK. That meant that we'd do a lot of recruitment events in city halls, et cetera, of being able to explain to people why they should work with us. Who'd be hosting those town halls and meetings? I would. I'd be telling the narrative and the story of who we are as a brand and why this store matters and what our culture is like for us to be able to work there. Most mornings, top of the escalators, down to 60, 80, 100 staff. Guess who's giving the morning huddle, the morning briefing to create inspiration to the room? Like I'd be taking that mantle because it was a fun challenge for me, 18, 19, 20, 21.

But I saw myself as a trainer more than a speaker, that's where my early career was. And I then became head of retail at a big furniture retail group and was involved in a lot of store turnaround projects and changes. Got introduced to the work of Dale Carnegie through that process and started to learn about other folks like Jim Rowans, Zig Ziglar, et cetera, and listening to tapes and CDs and thinking one day when I'm old and gray what I'd love to be is I'd love to be able to be a speaker at some point in time, that would be really cool at the end of my career.

And what then happened is through a number of other careers, I built a big investment property company that we were selling overseas investments to, and we'd sell it through a seminar model. So we'd do seminars to independent financial advisors, IFAs would recommend our products to their clients, and we'd sell around 600 homes a year in Cyprus. We had a good time for a good time through till about 2008. World changed a little, and we needed to change our business plan. And we brought that business down, wondering what to do next. And because I'd been quite prolific through the business networking groups, business networking groups like Chambers of Commerce, BNI, et cetera, would invite me in to speak to their members for some ideas about how they could trade out for a recession. So I figured, while I'm figuring out what business I want to build next why don't I go and do that to pass some time? Sounds fun. Might bump into some opportunities.

From there I'd be speaking at those events for free and people would say, "Hey, do you have more of this? Where do we learn more from you?" And that made me make a decision to write my first One Day Sales Training Workshop. So I grew up on building a one day self-hosted program. I put 12 people in a room, 85 pounds a head, and people would say, "Will it cover blank?" I'd say, "Yeah," and then I'd write that thing down. I delivered that one day training workshop three times a month for a period of about 18 months, built a one-on-one coaching business off the back of that, built a consulting business off the back of that, started to create info products off the back of that, wrote a monthly paid for subscription magazine off the back of that and started to build a community and try it. But I never saw myself as getting booked as a corporate speaker, I didn't even know it was a thing.

What then happened was I was looking to get more exposure into filling my events. I couldn't get booked as a speaker on any of the big speaker, what we would now see, as the influencer pay-to-play type speaking models. I didn't have enough gravitas to be a headliner to draw names into those. So I started a book myself, and that meant I would host events, half day events, 47 pound tickets. And I would reach out to two other speakers that were ahead of me in the race, put them on the bill, get them to come for free, let them to sell the audience that I hustle to fill, and I'd be the third speaker.

Phil Jones:

... to sell to the audience that I hustled to fill, and I'd be the third speaker. So, I was putting myself alongside other folks that I respected in those environments, and building a community.

What would happen in those environments, is that people would then show up to that event that had bigger businesses. They'd say things like, "Hey, Phil. We've got a sales conference coming up. Can we hire you to speak?" I'm like, "Yeah, I guess so." They're like, "How much do you charge?" And I'm like, "Well, I don't know." I had no idea about pricing, no idea about anything.

So, I've been a 250-pound speaker, and crushed it. Like one of the best 250-pound speakers that there ever was. And that's not weight, that's money, bearing mind we were in the UK at the time. And I grew through all of the levels. So, I didn't see myself as being a speaker, as the market really chose me.

And then I started to realize, well, instead of me speaking to be able fill my events to build my coaching and consulting practice, well, can I build a legitimate speaking business, too? And maybe 2011, I strategically looked to be at a breakout of just the UK market, because you can do three gigs in a day in the UK, but you're capping out at 1500 pounds, and 2000 pound speaking fees.

But you can do three gigs in a day, driving. Not Josh Linkner in a private jet, three gigs in a day, but you know what I mean, is that you can drive from one to the next. But I wanted to play a bigger game, wrote my first book in 2011. That was really a passport, as opposed to the idea of creating a book. And actively went to be able to build a resume of speaking internationally. Spoke in 50-plus countries very quickly.

Josh Linkner:

That's really funny, because when you trace back to the question I asked you, "What are the principles that got you there?" You were willing to do the work before you get paid, and you had this deep sense of curiosity. And I can really see how those intangibles led to this launch.

So, fast-forward many years now, a decade or so, you write, Exactly What to Say. And many of us, including me, I've written four books. I've had a couple of good runs, a couple of New York Times bestsellers. But none of them have achieved what you have. Over a million books sold. Breakaway bestselling book. I know one of the biggest audio books in history.

How did you formulate that idea? Most things, when you hear a snappy tagline, it wasn't just like someone got in the shower. It was a lot of work behind it. How did Exactly What to Say become Exactly What to Say?

Phil Jones:

Yeah, let's give you the full story here, because I think there's a big lesson here for particularly thought leaders, speakers, et cetera, that want to be in this space. Is firstly, it's not a new idea to me. This is something I've lived with forever. And in my one-day sales training workshops, we used to ask people to complete feedback forms.

In my one-day sales training workshops, one of the things that we'd sprinkle in, like to lighten the mood, is at breaks or comebacks, I'd just share with people some precise magic words that would be an illustration of the principle that we just talked about. In almost every feedback form that I ever had from the workshop, of something that was somebody's biggest takeaways, there was always, "Loved your magic words."

And I thought, "That's interesting." Then when it came to me speaking at events where I was looking to be able to drive traffic, if I had a short window of time to be able to speak, often I'd be at an event where there's 20, 30 people all speaking at the same time, right? This is a breakout, an exhibition, and you are in keynote hall three, but really you are in an aircraft hanger, and you've got a piece of polythene between you and keynote hall seven, and et cetera. So, all the noise is overlapping.

And I learned that what it took to be able to win audiences, is great titles, topics, and descriptions. So, I wrote a speech called The Magic Words for Influence and Persuasion. And guess what? When the dude next door is sharing how nuclear physics can do blank, and how to master sales management in times of change, and all of these different sort of bland titles, I'd fill a room. So, that became interesting to me. It then became a sprinkling into more of my keynotes and my trainings, this always playful piece of magic words.

What then happened is, I found myself in a mastermind group with five, six other speaker coaches, authors. And we were talking about book publishing. And they said, "It's really hard to publish a book." This is not that hard. I mean, you could turn a book around nowadays in 2, 3, 4 weeks if you needed to. And this was at the newness of self-publishing.

And they said, "You can't do that." I said, "You can." They said, "Well, put your money where your mouth is." So, what I did, is I took a two-page PDF that I'd used for training for a customer service group in the telco industry the day before, that was called 17 Magic Words for Influence and Persuasion, How to Sell Without Sounding Salesy. It was a two-page PDF, that was a takeaway from a training that I'd done before.

And I blew it up into a book. In fact, I know that we're on video here and we're on audio, but let me see if I can, yeah, let me grab it. And you are looking at this thing right now. I know other people might be listening. But this thing was the book. It is tiny. It is like a pamphlet, like it is razor-thin, in terms of its sizing.

But I turned this book out, and we did it in the two-week window. Published it to KDP, which was Amazon's new Kindle Publishing Services at the time, it was brand new. And you could run a promotion that said if it was free for a period of time, they will juice it. It was brand new. Put Magic Words into KDP, woke up seven days later, 120,000 free downloads. I'm like, "Okay, I might have something." People reviewed it, people liked it. I'm like, "It wasn't even a fricking book, it was a pamphlet."

So, what then happened was, I used this as lead capture, as being able to build lists, as a chance to be able to have it as a leave-behind. It was a revenue-generator as an upsell at speaking events and gigs, et cetera. I produced it as a CD, as a 30-minute giveaway, industrial-strength business card. We're talking 2009, '10, '11 here right now.

What then happened is, I wrote a couple of other books, et cetera. In 2016, '17, I went through my geographic move from the UK to the US. Thought if I'm going to get some traction from the speaker bureaus, I should probably write a new book. Let's write a new book, and give them something to be excited about. And then I thought, "You fricking idiot, Phil. Why on earth would you write a new book? You've got, in your back catalog, like an EP that is crushed, that you never finished and made the album."

So, Exactly What to Say is the rewrite of Magic Words. It was called Magic Words, right up until about three weeks before pub date. And then what I did is, I just did a little Google search, [inaudible 00:17:47] words into Google, and then a little search into Amazon. Found a freaking book that was published the year before called Magic Words, by a guy called Tim David, who happens to be a real magician.

So, in Amazon.com, I didn't have Magic Words associated towards me at all. Tim David got there first. I'm like, "Well, let's not try to be able to cause a storm. Let's just rename the book. What do I call it? What do I call it? What do I call it?"

Well, I went back in time and what happened is, I'd run a number of infotainment training events, where I booked a theater, and invited people from the network marketing industry to come to an event to learn how to be able to sell. We'd put a couple hundred people in the room, sell low-price tickets. It was fun.

I called that event Exactly What to Say. Wondering what to be able to call the book, I looked at the fact that we'd sold about 20,000 of this three-disc CD set, called Exactly What to Say. And went, "Well, success leaves clues. Why don't I call the book Exactly What to Say?"

What we then did is published it. We published the book. A major New York publisher tried to come and then buy the rights off me, when it was, I don't know, maybe six weeks published. I said, "No, thank you." And here we are. I'll do three podcasts later today on my brand new book called Exactly What to Say. I published it in 2017.

So, I'm riding this horse like Rick Astley's riding Never Going to Give You Up. And we are going to keep going, and going, and going. But this is my life's work. This isn't a big idea. This is a proven method that I have distilled down over trainings and workshops and speeches, and trainings and workshops and speeches, and PDFs, and workbooks, and book one, book two, book three.

This is a distillation of simple success language into the world of sales. So, I think that's how we've managed to be able to keep running with this. And I never did a book launch. I always do a book launch. Like, I'm launching every day.

Maria Cairo:

Becoming a keynote speaker is an amazing profession. The top performers earn millions, while driving massive impact for audiences around the world. But the quest to speaking glory can be a slow route, with many obstacles that can knock even the best speakers out of the game. If you're serious about growing your speaking business, the seasoned pros at ImpactEleven can help.

From crafting your ideal positioning, to optimizing your marketing effectiveness, to perfecting your expertise and stage skills. As the only speaker training and development community run by current high level speakers at the top of the field, they'll boost your probability of success and help you get there faster.

That's why nearly every major speaker bureau endorses and actively participates in ImpactEleven. The ImpactEleven community provides you unparalleled access to the people, relationships, coaching, and accountability that compresses your time to success. To learn more about the ImpactEleven community, schedule a free strategy session today, by visiting impacteleven.com/connect. That's impact, E-L-E-V-E-N.com/connect.

Josh Linkner:

You said so many wonderful things in there. First of all, I love the fact that what became a magic trick turned into Magic Words, and that ultimately became your breakaway success. And this notion of success leaves clues. You saw what people were gravitating to, and you adapted in such a beautiful way. And you did this with a non-traditional publisher, which is especially cool.

If you were providing advice to someone today. Me, for example, I'm sure I'm going to write another book. I have four kids and four books, and I'm sure I've got another book in me. What advice do you offer to someone like me, who is considering bringing a new book project to market, in these current times, where traditional publishers are less effective than ever, where there's lots more options, and there's a lot more noise in the marketplace?

Phil Jones:

Okay. In my mind, there are two types of books, particularly as speakers. There is a big idea book, and there is a proven method book. These two books exist. If you've got a big idea in you, then what I'm looking-

Phil Jones:

If you've got a big idea in you, then what I'm looking for is I'm looking for a major publisher to believe that your big idea is a big idea and to give you a giant advance that is then going to give some contribution and commitment to the fact that they're happy to test. If your big idea is actually a big idea with the marketplace, yet what I believe is more valuable to almost every speaker is a proven method book. Something that's going to live with you, something that is your IP, something that is your signature calling card. John Bonjovi can write as much new music as he likes, but people are going to remember him for living on a prayer. What is it that you can own? That is your proven method that you can document into a book that you'd be happy to live with for a decade. That's the decision that you are happy to live with for a decade.

Chances are you've already written it. You just need to reedit it, repackage it, reposition it, bring it to market in a way that you own and that you can control. I've done over 65 different customer editions of exactly what to say. Many of them sit under the radar because I sold them into companies 10,000 units at a time. They don't sit on the open domain. But when this is your IP and you're a speaker, the flexibility of being able to actually be creative with both the marketing, the positioning, the packaging, and the pricing of your book is responsible for over a million dollars a year in personal revenue to me. So why you wouldn't do that, I'm completely bemused as to why a speaker wouldn't create a body of work that they can live with for a period of time.

If you've got a big idea, go get after it. See if somebody's going to ride and put some of their money up for that big idea too. But if you've got a proven method, document it, refine it and own it. This is your IP. What you then have the ability to do, which again, many people miss. Every new print run of the book, I can update it and edit it. New call to actions, new lead magnets. New thank you pages, new call to actions partway through the book, et cetera. We can make all of those changes with creative freedom, and your cost price is phenomenally lower. So my cost price landed of a copy of exactly what to say is about a buck book.

So I can give them away. I can include them in events that I want to. I've had other speakers go to events that needed a book at the event and I've given them mine. Would you like a tiny tip for speakers to be able to maximize books on events? May as well put that in here, right? Upselling books at events is hard. Most speakers don't give much time, effort and energy to it because they don't believe there's any money in it, yet there is money in it because it's a portable story even if. What happens is that you don't actually make margin out of the books, but if you do make margin of the books, even more so.

The mistake many people make when trying to sell books is they sell it in the wrong time. They try to talk to people about buying books at the point of booking the speaker. They try and get it into contract one. And at that point in time, all of the budget allocation for the event hasn't been considered, there isn't a line item for books, et cetera, et cetera. The best place to sell books is on a pre-event planning call prior to you wrapping up the call. So run your pre-event planning call, learn about what's new in the business at that period of time, go through the details of the logistics. And just as you're about to wrap up the call and you're about to finish up, just say, "Hey, one quick question." They say, "What?" You say, "well, what's your plan for books?"

And more often than not, they're like, "What do you mean, plan for books?" You say, "well, we're going to talk about the book in the speech. There's going to be a number of people that are going to be asking whether they get the book. Has anyone gifted a book? Is the book being sponsored, or do you just want me to point the people to Amazon?" And they're like, "Well, how would that work?" And we're like, "Well, now being as you've asked." And we get about 80% conversion of events to bulk books for the room.

Josh Linkner:

Wow. What a great tactical tip mixed in this big giant idea of how to bring your models to market. It's so, so good, man. So switching to your speaking business. Again, you've had breakaway success as an author, and as a speaker too. I know your fee continues to rise, your demand continues to rise and your clients are delighted. I know that you're managed. So there's, as we know, many paths to market. One can be an independent speaker as I've been for 15 years. Friendly with all bureaus and managers alike, but not aligned with one. There are managed speakers who work with a management firm like you do with Karen Harris at CMI, who's our dear friend who I adore, Karen. She's been to my house. Awesome. And then there's the exclusive model. Not the one is right or wrong, it obviously has to fit for different people. Help us understand why the managed speaker model is right for you and maybe give us a little peek into that world for those that are less familiar with it.

Phil Jones:

Sure. And I've actually been all of these things. So I've been managed, been independent and been exclusive, so I can talk towards each of them. And I was running my own speaking business, taking my own calls, following up my own leads for the bulk of my early stage career, right up until about 2017, 2018, that if somebody inquired, they'd hear from me, and it used to be a big differentiator. Big, big differentiator is that I'd pat and interrupt the inquiry by actually just calling the person myself. What then happened though is the type of lead and inquiry that I would receive would change. It went from, "Are you available on what's your fee?" To, "Is Phil available on what's his fee?" And I'm like, oh, dang. It cannot be me that responds with this from a price positioning point of view. It doesn't add up if this is the type of lead.

So I need somebody to be able to handle the inbound leads and inquiries. As your fee starts to rise as well, it doesn't mean you stop getting the low-priced inquiries and leads. So there needs to be some form of filter towards this, and you need to have some way of being able to manage that. I thought that maybe we'll bring somebody in-house to be able to do this, but I didn't have the bandwidth to train them, to be able to support them and to be able to deal with all the updated things, and I looked for clues again. A dear friend of mine, somebody who I highly respected in the speaking industry, many of you that will know on this call, a guy called Vin Jang, was reped by Karen Harris. And Vin and I had done some work together on some video projects together and he spoke very highly of Karen.

I'm like, that is cool. If you're good enough for Vin, you're good enough for me, and met with Karen from a representation point of view. And what's particularly helpful on that is I don't meet the client until either a win the business call or a pre-event planning call. All of that part is taken care of it, and I get a lot of direct business. 80% of my business is direct rather than bureaus. So what that means is that somebody has to filter and manage those leads. And Karen's roster I respect, I'm very happy for her to be able to then downsell to other folks on that roster if it's not a fit for me.

And it's taken a lot of the stress out of lead gen and follow up. Not lead gen. Lead management, follow up, response times, being able to get back to people quickly when I'm running a busy business life and a busy family life. I can now leave my phone in its drawer when I want to without worrying about missing an opportunity. So that's management that works for me. It cost me more money. We do do some bureau gigs, I pay commissions twice. I was exclusive when I first came to the US and I got offered an exclusive opportunity that I thought was going to make me and I'm going to blow up with this, and very quickly realized that that was not a good fit for me because I didn't have enough gravitas at the time to warrant being exclusive, if I'm to look back on it in hindsight.

And as much as I love the bureau, still do business with that bureau today, still great people, I wanted to be in control of my own career. And being with management and having quite a firm handle on that management has allowed me to drive the agenda, particularly fee wise, types of gig wise, and be able to craft my own career with a third party intermediary that can actually allow me to move at speed. I'd say yes to more things that I shouldn't if I didn't have management.

Josh Linkner:

Makes a lot of sense, and it allows you to focus on doing the highest calling that you have of working on content and delivery and letting Karen and her team do the management. So I think it's a great model. And again, I adore her. She's a wonderful human, not to mention a wonderful professional.

Phil Jones:

She's amazing. She's coming here to New York next week.

Josh Linkner:

Oh good. Well, please give her a hug for me.

Phil Jones:

You bet.

Josh Linkner:

You mentioned Vin, and funny enough, I met Vin years ago at my friend and partner, Peter Sheehan's house, and we were sitting around. Vin was really just getting started in the speaking business funny enough, and now he's had a rocket ship of success. Our business is interesting that, well, technically you and I are probably competitors. We don't really think of it that way as much. There's a big industry, there's plenty for us all. You win an event one year, I win it the next year. So there's a lot of collegiality in our industry. And by surrounding yourself with other friends in the industry, you not only learn, but there's a sense of camaraderie and such. I'm curious, who are some of those people that are in your speaker tribe? And also, who do you consider those that you've learned from the most as you've come up the ascent of this industry yourself?

Phil Jones:

I learned from everybody, Josh. Absolutely everybody. Both positive role models, negative role models, everywhere in between. Some of my dearest friends though that support the business side of things is I am part of a five person all male mastermind group, that we're all similar ages, we all speak, we all have similar fees. We all have businesses that are ancillary. We all love our wives and our families, and we all deal with the stresses of the roads. It's a purposefully put together group that have similar interests. And that's with Jay Bear and David Horsaga and Jason Dorsey, and with Rory Vaden. So that group of five of us are really good at keeping each other in check. We meet just twice a year and then catch up in between on those things. So it's not a high touch mastermind, it's just a high impact that is particularly beneficial.

I do still very actively mix in the NSA circles. People like Scott McCain have been a solid elder figure to me in the industry. I've learned a lot about sustainability, a lot about growth. I'm privileged to be part of Speakers Roundtable as well, which is a fabulous group of folks that have very, very diverse prongs into the speaking industry. And I learn a lot from being around people that have been in the speaking industry 40, 50, 60 years. And you're like, oh, dang. That's real wisdom. And much of.

Phil Jones:

... and you're like, "Oh, dang." That's real wisdom. Much of it is to do with the offstage actions and decisions in life, more so than it is performance and fees and tactical business stuff. I think that's a big part of winning and sustaining a career as a speaker is, how do you stay healthy, how do you protect the relationships that matter? How do you make decisions about when enough is enough? Where do you look to be able to draw boundaries around? What could you say yes to? What does winning really look like?

And being able to have those kind of conversations with peeps, I find more useful than, "How you getting your next gig and what contract clause do you have in place?" That stuff's necessary, but at this stage in my career, I want to talk exit strategy, and I want to talk about how do you manage to keep it all together in the travel and what are you doing for health and how do you make it up to the people that you love in your family when you've just been gone for nine days and didn't manage to be able to respond to too many phone calls?

Josh Linkner:

It's so good. And I love this notion of both negative and positive role models, and you've learned from those who've come before you, and you're learning from contemporaries too. I'd love to double click on this notion of masterminds. For those that are unfamiliar with that. As Phil described, you have a small group of people perhaps, there's no exact limit, doesn't have to follow a set of rules, but you work together to support each other's businesses and personal lives, and from those organizations, deep friendships forum and all kinds of learning and growth.

Back in 2014, we did a mastermind. It was me, Peter Sheehan, who I mentioned earlier, Sally Hogshead, Jeremy Gautier, and Mel Robbins. The five of us hung out and went to each other's houses and learn from each other, and it was a wonderful experience. Now I get to do that same thing with Peter Still and Ryan Estes and Seth Madison. But I love this notion of assembling a mastermind group. For someone who's listening today, any tips or advice that you might have having done this yourself on what someone could do to or parameters to optimize this mastermind format?

Phil Jones:

Yeah, I think be very clear in expectation as to what you want this mastermind to be able to deliver. Is it a place that you can just be and be collegiate and have fun and a chance to be able to hang with like-minded peers? That could be one thing where really it's just, it's an exhale and a chance for you to be able to bitch about, talk about, the things that nobody else in your social circle, family circle has a chance [inaudible 00:35:19] talk about. That's one potentially good use as a mastermind.

But if it's not that, then what would be a more strategic business focused approach? Make sure that everybody knows what they're coming in, to be able to contribute towards it and people know what they're for. When it comes to forming one, somebody needs to decide a structure. So in our mastermind, we have a period of time where everybody has a fixed window for an update, and all we have is an update and an ask. That's it. That's the only structure that exists in our mastermind. 30 minute update. Everybody does an update. What there then is, is an ask. We jam on that ask for 45-60 minutes, et cetera. Meeting is done. And then next time we meet, it's an update based on how we've made progress since the last update. That's it.

But it's very, very, very focused. We get down in the weeds, we talk pricing and business and left-right decisions. It's good stuff. And when it comes to forming it, you've got to make sure, just like if you were forming a board of advisors, people are competent to be able to do the role that you're asking them to be able to do. You also need to make a decision, is this a mixed skillset mastermind group or is this a group of peers? If you're a younger speaker, what you might look to be able to do is to take the sweat equity of organization and almost lead the facilitation of the group so that what you can do is to craft a mastermind group of aspirational peers.

Can you be the ring Master for four or five other speakers that are you two to three years on from now? So what you get is you get the six seat at a mastermind that you possibly wouldn't have been invited to, but if you invite the other five, you get your seat at a table that helps you grow. Just be on purpose. And the final tip I'd give on masterminds, is if you want them to sustain, create a sustainable format. I think the mistake that happens for many is that you create too many touch points in too short a period of time. They're never ever going to sustain. It's like we meet weekly on Fridays at 3:00 PM on Zoom. I'm like, it's not going to work.

Because what it tells me is none of you're busy. Right? This is a mastermind group for people who aren't working. Set something up that it is sustainable. And with our mastermind group, we put the dates in the schedule for the year ahead and we view it so valuably that if a gig comes in, a gig doesn't change the dates. The mastermind group is a gig in itself, and it is more valuable than us picking up a full fee to go speak for someone else. Those kinds of decisions need to be considered if you're going to really get the value out of a group. And if it's not worth four feet in a gig for then, it's probably not a great group.

Josh Linkner:

Brilliant advice and perspective. As we round out our conversation today, we've talked about where you've been starting at 14 years old washing cars. You've had this incredible career, you're still a young man. I know you have four kids who you adore. And you've got a lot, a very bright future ahead. You're so well-respected in the industry, top of your game. What does the next chapter look like for you? What is the next leg of the race for Phil Jones?

Phil Jones:

I think on this a lot, Josh, and I don't think I have full clarity on it. I'm not like, here's my full baked answer. I am 41 years of age and I've already professionally out-kicked any of the aspirations I had for myself in a professional career, particularly from a speaker's point of view, right? I've opened for names like I opened for Tony Robbins last year, and that's a cool thing to be able to do. That was a bucket list thing. I've played some arenas. We've sold two and a half million copies of a book. All the things I could have written down and said, "That would be cool if." I got a lot of ticks against those things. I'm actually in a phase in my life right now where I'm trying to be able to pull out a blank sheet of paper and saying, "What do I want the next 10, 15, 20 years to look like?"

I don't have full clarity on it. But from a speaking point of view is I believe we should always be working on our future bio. Your bio isn't incomplete until you can get to a one word bio. So introducing Beyonce. Like no further information is required in your bio if you're Beyonce. But until the time you get to a one word bio, we should always be looking at what's next. I think part of what I'm looking to build out, we have our certified guides program and now 37 independently licensed certified practitioners that carry the message of exactly what to say out into the world. I'm looking to grow that out to 100. I'm looking for those messengers to be out there and building their own speaking, training, coaching, consulting businesses, and standing in front of the brand.

And if there is a loose goal in here is I'm looking for the EWTS acronym to be as well known as the NLP acronym. It just becomes a thing that people do at some point in their career or life. It doesn't steal the show, but it exists in people's peace. And that means that I might be looking for a bio line item that says, "Founder, creator of the world renowned EWTS training systems." That kind of thing is where we're leaning towards.

And I want the book to keep selling like Mariah Carey's Christmas hit that we just keep going year after year after year. And I got a 30, 35 grand a month royalty stream that comes from my little book. I plan on nurturing it and looking after it so that it provides for my family for the rest of time.

Josh Linkner:

What a beautiful way to round out our conversation. You've told us exactly what to do and exactly what to say, and my friend, I have so much deep respect for you. Thank you for sharing your insights with us and wishing you continued remarkable success on the path ahead.

Phil Jones:

Hey, my pleasure. Keep up the great work, you guys too.

Josh Linkner:

Wow. After that conversation, I need to reread Phil's book, because I don't know what to say. I'm blown away. Not by Phil's accomplishments and skills, which are amazing, but by his character. It's inspiring to see someone both so committed to growing and changing while also remaining exactly who he is.

Here are my top takeaways from today's episode. First, Phil understands the power of details. His book is successful because it's a very specific idea, honed across hundreds of workshops and trainings and speeches and PDFs and workbooks. So when it came time to launch exactly what to say, Phil knew exactly what to do.

Number two, I was also blown away by Phil's commitment to evolution. And I'm not talking about fish to apes to people evolution. I'm talking about the day in day out growth that turns promising speakers into lifelong successes. Phil updates his book, his speeches, his approach, his strategies almost on a daily basis. He never rests on his laurels despite having earned a metric ton of them.

And finally, Phil represents the amazing power of humility and a service mindset. If anyone in the speaking industry has earned the right to be a prima donna, it's Phil. But the more successful he becomes, the more committed he gets to making everything all about the client, the audience, and the individual. It's just who he is, and we can all learn a lot from his continued emphasis on those values.

Now at the close of this week's killer episode, I fortunately know exactly what to say. And that is, thank you. Thank you for joining us on another edition of Mic Drop.

Thanks so much for joining me on another episode of Mic Drop. Don't forget to subscribe on Apple, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever you get your favorite shows. If you love the show, please share it with your friends and don't forget to give us a five star review. For show transcripts and show notes, visit www.micdrop podcast.com. I'm your host, Josh Linkner. Thanks so much for listening, and here's to your next mic drop moment.