It is a given that in today’s information economy, one of the most effective ways to grow your business is to become a thought leader. And one of the best ways to get people to perceive you as a thought leader is to regularly do high profile speaking gigs. To this end, many entrepreneurs and business owners go to great lengths to get themselves booked on these prestigious platforms. They write books. They assemble press kits. They work their contacts. But often this is not enough.
To really reach the top tier of the speaking circuit, you need help. Fortunately, there are a group of people whose specialty is turning talented, accomplished people into high profile speakers.
In this article, you’ll encounter five founders of speakers bureaus who are the best in their field. If you want to make your name in this elusive space, you would do well to court any one of them.
1. David Lavin (Founder of The Lavin Agency)
David Lavin started his career by booking Hunter S. Thompson on a lark. From this early success, he realized he had a knack for it. But it was when he decided to invert the traditional speakers’ bureau model that his agency really took off. He began seeking out interesting people and convincing them that they would make good speakers. Then he sought out venues where he felt they would fit and made matches. The strategy resulted in a business that hasn’t stopped growing since, with a roster that includes names like Reza Aslan, Margaret Atwood, Welby Altidor, and Miki Agrawal.
2. Lawrence Watkins (Co-founder of Great Black Speakers)
3. Boyce Watkins (Co-founder of Great Black Speakers)
While most speakers’ bureaus have a broad focus, brothers Lawrence and Boyce Watkins decided to create an organization with a very specific purpose – to “uplift and empower the African American community.” They have succeeded and then some. Since 2007, Boyce and Boyce have matched thousands of organizations with speakers around topics around diversity, motivation, business, and innovation.
4. Farah Perelmuter (CEO of Speakers’ Spotlight)
From its humble beginning as a venture run out of the Perelmuters’ apartment, Speakers’ Spotlight has sped past many of the established giants of the field. The agency now has offices in multiple cities in Canada and was recently selected by Profit magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in Canada. Some of her agency’s most notable speakers include Susan Cain, Simon Sinek, Peter Guber, Michael Hyatt, and Leeza Gibbons.
5. Bill Leigh (Chairman of The Leigh Bureau)
On the other side of the spectrum is Bill Leigh who heads The Leigh Bureau, the oldest premium speakers’ bureau in the world. The current Chairman took over the business from his father W. Colston Leigh, who held the distinction of booking Eleanor Roosevelt as a speaker before she was First Lady. Since then, the agency has represented legends, leaders, and luminaries that include Peter Drucker, Boris Yeltsin, and Alvin Toffler. Under the younger Leigh’s tenure, the company has become truly global, with a presence in North America, Europe, Australia, India, New Zealand, the Middle East, and Latin America.
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