I’m excited to share with you one of my FAVORITE new resources for speaking success. It’s called The Conquer Kit, and it’s inked by Natalie MacNeil, an Emmy Award-winning media producer, Founder of SheTakesOnTheWorld.com (recognized by Forbes as one of the “Top 100 Websites for Women”), and creator of the yearlong women’s business incubator, The Conquer Club.
I’ve started coaching with Natalie, and I can say with utmost confidence she is the real deal! Not only is she able to quickly laser-in on your opportunities for growth, she has also run multiple companies, gave a fantastic TEDx talk (in the early days) on harnessing the power of women, and she is deeply committed to giving back (as you’ll read more about in our interview). She’s as practical as she is playful. As soulful as she is strategic. Can you tell I’m a bit of a fan?!
While The Conquer Kit provides actionable strategies applicable to all businesses, I’m wholeheartedly recommending it to those looking to make speaking a core part of their business because, as Natalie will explain, speaking IS a business. And too often it’s not treated as such, foundational business pieces are overlooked, and as a result too many speakers do not see or sustain the success (and impact) they crave.
Enjoy my interview with Natalie, the first of many future collaborations – I hope. And be sure to read our interview all the way to the end to learn more about our The Conquer Kit giveaway.
Question: Natalie, you are the author of the new book, The Conquer Kit. Can you please tell readers what makes this book unique and why it should be at the top of their holiday book list?
Answer: I’m so excited about this book Alexia, and I appreciate you inviting me for this interview. Business plans are one of the last remaining spaces in publishing where intimidating lingo, dry writing, and long verbiage are still the norm. If you go to the Business Plans section of your bookstore, that’s what you’re going to find. There’s usually a middle-aged man standing with his arms crossed (or sometimes pointing!) on the cover… it’s not the most fun section of the bookstore.
The Conquer Kit is an interactive experience that brings business planning into the realm of play. Readers are invited to sketch, scribble, glue, dream, and write on the pages . . . all while developing an airtight business plan with proven methods and strategies. Consider it a canvas for your boldest goals and deepest desires. It will help you create a gorgeous business plan for the next 12 months.
Q: For readers who are looking to use speaking as a business and platform building strategy, what are your top end of the year planning tips to start 2016 off strong?
A: Definitely revisit your Speaker’s Kit and summarize your 2015 achievements and milestones. I would also ask you to consider writing a book if you haven’t already! Having a book is a calling card for speaking engagements, even if it’s self-published. If you want to use speaking as part of your business development strategy, a book will help you land bigger and better gigs so you can achieve that goal. Look at platforms like Create Space and Book Baby to plan your self-publishing journey.
Q: What are some of the less sexy (and yet very necessary) business foundations that those looking to start or scale their speaking need to consider?
A: I’m sure you know that I love this question because I’m committed to helping micro business owners (less than 5 employees) build a solid foundation so they can bring their dreams to life. First, you need to make sure you have a sound legal foundation. Make sure you have a speaking contract in place even before you get booked for speaking engagements. I use OurDeal.com, created by my attorney Kyle Durand, to create and execute contracts. This tool will make your legal life much easier, and I believe in keeping it as simple as you can and add more complexities only as you need them to protect your growing business. You also need the right financial systems in place. I go through these systems in plain old English in The Conquer Kit, and explain finances and accounting in an easy-to-understand way for anyone who feels intimidated by balance sheets, cash flow forecasts, and budgets. Speaking of budgets, you need one! 😉 This is the perfect time of year to create a budget if you don’t usually set one at the beginning of a new year. I have a whole section of the book called “Form the Four Pillars of Success” that helps you strengthen your foundation.
Q: How has speaking enabled you to grow your biz – and the She Takes on the World movement?
A: Nothing beats an in-person connection, and it’s the She Takes on the World followers that I meet in person at speaking gigs and meet-ups that become our biggest supporters and most vocal cheerleaders. A speaking gig in and of itself can introduce your brand to new people but what I really cherish is what happens after the gig at the event. When people stand in line to ask you a question, chat for a few minutes and introduce themselves, get their book signed… it’s just magical. With tens of thousands of people in our community, it feels so good to have faces and names put to the numbers.
Q: One of the many things I love about you is that you stand for women (and men) using their business to serve at a bigger level in the world. What advice would you give to readers who want to speak to spark positive change?
A: Thank you. Giving back is part of the DNA of my company. Look, so many people today are telling me “I want to change the world with my business” or “I’m here to serve!” and I’m finding there’s a lot more talk than action. If you want to spark positive change and serve others, I recommend tying it right into your bottom line. Don’t just say, “I want to give back,” but actually pledge a portion of your profits whether you commit to 5%, 10%, or a dollar value from every sale. #PledgeYourProfits is a campaign I’m kicking off alongside the tour of The Conquer Kit and 50% of my royalty earnings from the book will go toward The Conquer Academy we helped build in Tanzania and other organizations we can personally vouch for that are part of this #PledgeYourProfits campaign.
Q: How are you looking to “conquer” in 2016?
A: I’ll kick off the year with a big move to the U.S. (I’m Canadian) and I’ll be on my book tour where I’m looking forward to meeting so many Conquerors from our community in person. My focus will remain on serving our Conquer Club members, and prepping for the launch of our 2017 Conquer Club that we’ll open the doors to at the end of the year. I also have lots of travel plans, and plan on returning to The Conquer Academy in Tanzania to see all our students. The other big thing I’m working on for 2016 is a new company dedicated to meditations and mudras for busy people. One thing not everyone knows about me is that I’m a mudra and meditation teacher, and it’s a huge part of my life. Now I’m looking forward to helping others expand their practice through this new brand. All of these things should keep me busy for a year! 😉
While I encourage you to hop on over to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or support an independent bookseller like Powell’s or Books a Million, and pick up your copy of The Conquer Kit (and consider purchasing copies as holiday or end of year gifts for friends, team members and clients), I’m also doing a social media giveaway of my own. Because I believe that business planning is an essential, often overlooked component of building a thriving and sustainable speaking business, and I so believe in Natalie’s smart, systematic approach that I’ve chosen to work with her to help me scale my speaking and consulting business, I’m gifting 3 members of my community with a copy of The Conquer Kit. I’m keeping it democratic! The top 3 social media sharers of this interview who use the hashtag #ConquerSpeaking by December 31st will receive complimentary copies of the book. (I’ll reach out to you via social the first week of January, if you are a winner, to get you your book!)
Not sure what to post? Here are 3 recommended social media messages. Or, feel free to be creative and craft your own!
@AlexiaVernon interviews @NatalieMacNeil on how to #ConquerSpeaking in 2016 http://bit.ly/ConquerKit2016.
@Natalie MacNeil discusses how to build a solid speaking foundation w/ @Alexia Vernon http://bit.ly/ConquerKit2016. #ConquerSpeaking
@NatalieMacNeil dishes w/ AlexiaVernon on how to land bigger & better #speakinggigs http://bit.ly/ConquerKit2016. #ConquerSpeaking
To connect with Natalie and her She Takes on the World community, visit her online at SheTakesOnTheWorld.com.