I could’ve simply made this a downloadable PDF and forced you to give me an email to receive it. At that time you’d join and email list you don’t really care to be part of and ignore my emails coming in while forgetting to unsubscribe. Screw that… here’s some massive free value for you without asking for ANYTHING in return. If you feel like you match the people we serve, you’ll decide to take advantage of our offers. If you don’t, that’s alright. Use this information and go change the world!
In this blog I am going to walk you through the process of booking paid speaking engagements around the world for the United States Government. Before you go any further, please understand that I am NOT a representative of the United States and everything I teach in the blog is from my own learned experience of speaking for the military since 2013. I am not an employee of the government.
What I will tell you is that ever since 2013, I’ve traveled the world speaking on stages across college and military bases. Military hire me more than anyone else to speak. I’ve gotten paid anywhere from $2K when I first started out with no experience, to as high as $20K for a two-country tour across Okinawa, Japan and the entire country of South Korea. My audiences have ranged from as little as 5 to speaking to as many as 8,000 soldiers in a single day. Over the last 6 years, I have learned a lot and will be teaching you that here.
This isn’t old information, I literally just returned from an international tour in September. I spoke over 30 times across Texas, Italy and South Korea. My topic is always based on overcoming adversity. I experienced prostitution, war, suicide and murder all by the age of 23. You can learn more about my story here.
What I do now is help other people who are “Self-made” or the “underdogs”. The people who overcame challenges in their life and despite the odds… they made it to where they are today. These are normally coaches, speakers or authors who have a story they want to share with the world. I help them learn how to spread their message and become more well-known as part of our Rising Phoenix movement. A Rising Phoenix is someone who not only defeats their own challenges but leverages those experiences and stories to help other people overcome. If you are someone who has overcome some major obstacles in your life and want to share that story with the world to create an impact… you should consider joining our free group.
We believe in 3 words… Share. Inspire. Provide.
Share our stories in full honesty and transparency to show the world they’re not alone.
Inspire both hope and actionable change for those that hear our stories.
Provide solutions with every story we share. More than storytellers, we’re focused on giving actionable advice that can help them defeat the challenge they’re facing.
Alright, enough about me… let’s talk about you.
I like to knock this one out first so you don’t waste your time reading if you’re not what I personally believe the military would want to hire. Right now this world is filled with Tony Robbins coaches, Maxwell certified trainers and what-ever other famous person has convinced you into becoming a person that just walks around teaching their material under their name. I have no personal qualms with these people, but if that’s you… This probably isn’t a great route for you to take when trying to land speaking stages.
The Military doesn’t care if you’re certified under Tony Robbins or Maxwell, most of them don’t even know who that is. Now, if you could figure out how to be certified under Mattis.. you’d be on to something there. (That’s a joke, he doesn’t offer certified coaching programs)
The Military doesn’t really care about your level of education for the majority of topics. What they’re more concerned with now-a-days are stories of lived experience. I get hired to do suicide prevention training by the military because I attempted to take my own life. I have no formal education, the only degree I hold is a GED. I get hired for my story, not my education or certificates.
If you want to speak on suicide prevention, you need to have been impacted by suicide in some way. If you want to speak on domestic abuse, you should either be a victim or offender with experience in that realm. It’s no different if you want to speak on sexual assault, transitioning out of the military, leadership, resilience and etc. You need to be someone that has an intriguing and compelling story that would keep the attention of the audience.
Speaking for the Military isn’t like another business conference where people have the notepads out and are eagerly waiting for what you have to say. Most of the time the soldiers are forced to come hear you speak because it’s mandatory training they have to complete. The people hiring you don’t want to torture these soldiers, so they do the best to find someone they believe the soldiers would be intrigued by. Someone the soldiers would end up enjoying listening to even though they didn’t “choose” to be there in that moment.
Paperwork & Registration
In this area you have two options, so it really depends on what your goal is with speaking to the military. Some people just want to get in front of the troops with their message and aren’t concerned about getting the most money possible, others love the troops but also want to capitalize as much as possible. Nothing is wrong with either. Remember, the troops aren’t paying you out of their pockets. The money comes from Uncle Sam that they’re going to spend any way. Don’t feel guilty for getting paid to do this.
Now, if you’re a newer speaker looking to really just get some speaking under your belt to create more of a resume and a solid speakers reel… here’s what I suggest:
Start out either doing it for free to local bases or charging bare minimum just to get some experience under your belt. Plus, if you make them happy, they’ll be more than happy to introduce you to their other contacts at other bases.
For those just wanting to get some gigs under their belt and not concerned about charging top dollar.
The only thing you need is a speaking contract that you can easily “fill in the blank” on. I don’t give formats for this because it’s a legal matter, best thing to do here is to consult a business attorney and have them help you draw something up. To be honest, you don’t even need a formed business. They can just pay you as a subcontractor if you’d like. I wouldn’t suggest this just because of legal liability.
Without needing any other paperwork, you could easily get paid up to as much as $5,000 per base you speak at. Each base is given a government credit card they can use to make purchases. Some bases have a max spending limit of $2K on the card, others have as much as $5K. I have never been paid more than $5K from a government card.
For those wanting to capitalize and get paid as much as possible for their speaking engagements.
You will also need speaking contracts just like above, but there are a few other steps you need to do in order to charge more money. When you have these steps completed, the amount you can get paid drastically increases. The highest I’ve even been paid was $20K for doing a tour across South Korea and Japan over 10 days in 2014. That’s a lot more than a maximum of $5K.
The first thing you will need to do is get a registered DUNS number. You can learn how to get your DUNS number here.
The second thing you’ll need to get is a CAGE code, which is registered under SAM. You can learn how to get the CAGE code here.
Once you have both of these steps completed, the ability to get high paying speaking engagements drastically increases. You want this all done BEFORE reaching out to try and get a speaking engagement. Not having this will delay the process of getting hired or can end up ruining your chances of getting hired.
Getting paid by the government is a lot more in depth than speaking for the average Entrepreneur conference. There’s a lot of red tape and paperwork that goes into this, along with background checks to ensure you are legally allowed to do business with the United States Government. As I’m sure you understand, they need to make sure that it’s safe to have you on base with military personnel.
NOTE: Have a passport BEFORE applying to speak overseas. If they want to bring you out immediately and you don’t have a passport you will either lose out on the deal OR have to stress out and pay a lot of money to get an expedited passport. This is from experience. I was hired to speak in South Korea last minute, didn’t have a passport and had to spend hundreds of dollars to get an expedited passport so I could go.
Capturing The Attention
My very first paid speaking engagement was in August of 2013 where I was hired by Schofield Barracks in Hawaii to speak. They only paid me $2K and they couldn’t cover my travel or lodging arrangements. I ended up paying to speak there because I took my family with me. However, this ONE speaking engagement changed my entire life.
Here’s the coolest part…
They came to me requesting to have me speak there. I didn’t have to reach out or try to get the speaking engagement.
What I did was get interviewed by a local newspaper here in Austin, Texas on my story. That piece ended up landing on the front page of the Austin American Statesman, plus a full spread on the inside. That piece was then picked up by the Associate Press and shared around the world. However, the most important thing is that it was picked up by one major newspaper that ended up getting me this speaking engagement.
The piece landed on the front page of Stars and Stripes which is a newspaper that is shared on all Army bases as their main newspaper. The contact read the piece in the newspaper and then reached out to me to invite me to speak at their base, which happened to be the same base where I attempted to take my own life while I was in the Army.
After speaking there and impressing them, they then sent an email out to all of their contacts which ended up creating my now 6 year speaking career. All it takes is one stage, one impressed contact to completely open up new doors to plenty of opportunity within the United States Military.
This is the one step that most speakers don’t even think about. If you want people to come to you instead of you having to chase them, you need to leverage strategic publicity tactics.
That means getting yourself interviewed and featured on media outlets that those who would hire you read or pay attention to. If you want to speak on military bases, put an effort into getting interviewed on military related publications such as Stars and Stripes, Military Times, Army Times and other publications.
Timing is EVERYTHING
It’s important to understand that with many topics in the Military they will only hire people during specific times of the year. If you’re speaking on suicide for example, they will hire you in or around September because that’s “Suicide Prevention Month” in the Army. Try and find out if there’s a specific month in the military when they focus on your specific subject. This doesn’t mean it works for all subjects such as finance or transition, so take this piece of advice with a grain of salt.
Keep in mind that October 1st is always the end of the fiscal year for the military. If you want to speak, it’s important to start coordinating with people as early as February to get scheduled to speak on their base. You want to get in touch with them before they’ve used up too much of their budget for the year and can’t afford to have you out. This has happened to me numerous times when I didn’t plan accordingly or in advance.
Example, if you want to speak during suicide prevention month in September of 2020 you need to start reaching out to people in February to start booking. If you wait until June or July, the amount you can get paid will be very minimal if anything at all. Get to them when there’s plenty of budget so they can put your speakers fee to the side before they end up spending the money.
Finding The Contact
This is the hardest part of the entire process. Finding the right contact to get ahold of based on the topic and who can actually make the hiring decision. Most of the time you don’t talk to the actual decision maker, because the decision maker would be the Base Commander or high-ranking officer that doesn’t take the time to review every speaking request.You would speak to someone who decides they want to have you out to the base, they then take all of your information and present it to the decision makers and explain why they want to have you out. If the decision maker agrees with them, they then will move forward in the process of signing the contract and getting you out there. Every topic may need a different contact based on the subject matter, military branch and other various items.For example, if you’re focused on drug addiction, mental health or other topics specific to the soldiers on the behavioral side, you would want to get in touch with ASAP for the Army at the specific base you’re wanting to speak at. ASAP stands for Alcohol and Substance Abuse Program. They are the ones that would present you to leadership to hire you, and they have their own budgets every year to work with.
If you want to speak on the same subject for the Air Force, then you’d need to get in touch with the mental health outreach coordinator for that specific military base. The best way to find that contact would be contacting the base hospital and asking the front desk for contact information on that specific individual.
In the Navy or Marine Corps you’d want to find the contact information for the lead Chaplain of the entire base. You’d have to do some digging around to find the right contact for these people.
This is just one example of many, every subject matter and military branch will vary on who you should be talking to. It takes a lot of time to do the research and find the right contact. This is why it’s so important to take the media exposure route. When you take this route, it will attract the decision makers to you.
When going the contract route where you can get paid higher dollar amounts it’s important to be aware that you aren’t paid until AFTER completing your contract with them and it can often be NET30. Meaning you’ll get paid up to 30 days after you’ve already completed your contract. It’s important to keep this in mind when getting hired to speak overseas. You’ll have to pay your own travel and lodging and understand that you’re not getting that money back until a month after you’ve finished your speaking engagements.
The Military RARELY EVER covers your travel expenses or reimburses you for it. This has only happened ONCE in six years for me. So, when quoting it’s important to never use the terms “plus travel and lodging”. Just quote whatever dollar amount you need to ensure your travel is covered and don’t use that wording.
This isn’t a “one and done” type of speaking engagements. Most bases will have you speak multiple times a day, every day. In South Korea, I spoke once on some days and up to as many as four times on other days. They have to work around the military training schedule and different units have different things going on which is why they have to provide plenty of opportunity for them to hear you speak.
I am creating a digital course that will show you step-by-step exactly what to do in more detail. The first people in will actually get to watch live and ask questions, others can watch the replay later. Anyone that joins the Phoenix Effect will get to take part completely FREE.
The Phoenix Effect was created ONLY for the world-changers. The people who are trying to share their story not just to make money, but to actually create an impact in this world. This is best for the “underdogs” or “self-made” type. The ones that have overcome some form of life transforming adversity that nearly destroyed them, yet against all odds they not only survived it but became much more because of it.
In this program we have a weekly mastermind discussing topics on getting our stories and messages heard around the world. Landing more stages, more news interviews, capitalizing on the stages, creating our own media platforms and so much more. Not just a “group coaching” but an actual digital mastermind. It also comes with a vault filled with digital courses, a software that helps you land news interviews and even a publicist we provide you if you want it.
If that sounds like you, come join the Phoenix Effect. If you want to watch the digital course on landing speaking stages with the government, make sure you join right away. Otherwise you will have to just watch the replays if you decide to join later.