How do you become a motivational speaker? It was a winding road. I started my working life aged just 15 as a television actor working alongside Ant and Dec in the first two series of BBC teen soap Byker Grove. The legacy of the experience was a knowledge that I didn’t want to be an actor but a director, however, I guess I still have that urge to entertain and I try and bring a performer’s instinct to my work as a keynote speaker.
As part of my journey to become a film director I was recommended to go to Cambridge University where ostensibly I studied Economics and Anthropology, but really I was there to work with the Cambridge Footlights – with amazing talented people like Olivia Colman, David Mitchell and Robert Webb.
All the while I was also directing; I directed my first television commercial aged 20 and wrote my first feature film, produced by Columbia Tri Star, aged just 22 before going on to write a number of television programmes and feature films for Channel Four and Miramax among many others. Aged 25 however, despite my early successes, I decided that I wanted a new life challenge and moved to Las Vegas to become a professional poker player.
After three fantastic years, I came back to the UK and used my winnings to create a company which I later sold to a PLC. The experience made me realise just how similar the world of poker was to business and in 2005 I started working as a full time keynote speaker on this subject for companies around the world.
The first stage of my development was to join a training company, simply because I knew that – while training and keynote speaking are different skills – my ability at one would benefit from a greater proficiency at the other. I could not have chosen a better organisation to work for than The Mind Gym who took time to train me to become a trainer and facilitator in all areas of business ranging from innovation to collaboration.
For the last 5 years, however, I have worked exclusively for myself as a keynote and motivational speaker and trainer delivering my own unique materials around the subject areas of risk taking and decision making. Hopefully my work reflects all that I have learnt on this journey from the storytelling that I learnt as a writer to the timing and delivery that I worked on as a director. So… how do you become a motivational speaker? It just kind of happens I guess. If you’re passionate about saying something, eventually people really do want to listen.