1) Why did you decide to pursue professional speaking?
When you work hard to build a business and pour everything you have into it, you eventually get to this point where you feel as if you lost your identity. For years, you have been working on this one thing — it’s all you think about, talk about; it becomes who you are. When I got to this point in my life about two years ago, I decided that I wanted my purpose in life to be much bigger than simply building a business. I have learned so much along my journey as a young entrepreneur, most of which they don’t teach you about in school, so why not share this with others? I’ve watched our employees grow and transform into young leaders because of the culture we have built, and I know that I can teach other young people how to do the same, even if they aren’t a part of our company. I pursued professional speaking when I realized that my purpose in life is to make young people better — whether it be through our culture at Student Maid or by speaking on a college campus.
2) What was your first “gig”? How did it come about?
When I knew I wanted to do professional speaking, I started looking into agencies in the college market and I stumbled upon CAMPUSPEAK — a premier agency that only keeps a roster of about 50 speakers. I immediately fell in love with their core values and their brand, but I knew that it was a tough application process. I thought that I would never make it, but I applied anyway and was ecstatic when I learned they wanted me to join the roster in the fall of 2013. My first gig was at the University of Arizona. I shared the Student Maid story with the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority and challenged them to transform their chapter into a leading organization. It was the most surreal hour of my life!
3) How do you juggle running a business and speaking engagements?
It’s very simple: I have an incredible team of people behind me. I really owe all of this to them because they are the ones who pushed me to do professional speaking and apply to CAMPUSPEAK. They, too, are excited about me sharing the Student Maid story with students all over the country. My trips are usually pretty quick — I fly in, speak and fly out — but if I didn’t have an amazing team holding down the fort back home, it absolutely wouldn’t be possible.
4) What is your advice to others who are considering following in your footsteps?
Take time to craft your message. Make sure it’s something that excites you, that you believe in and that you really believe others need to hear. It is only when you feel this way that you will make an impact on those in the audience. Remember, you are doing this for them — not you!
5) What are your must-dos or must-haves when you speak?
I know this sounds silly, but I envision the outcome before I begin. I visualize the students laughing, learning, smiling and really enjoying my message. I also walk around the room before I speak and introduce myself to students. I have found this creates an instant connection so that they see me as an equal and not as someone who is above them — I try to make myself more “human” to them. When your audience feels connected to you, they will be more open to your message.