Joel Hawbaker is a high school teacher and soccer (football) coach in Alabama in the southern USA, where he lives with his wife Maryellyn, his two daughters, and his two rescue dogs Bruiser and Butterscotch. He has a B.A. in History from Covenant College, and he also spent time studying at Oxford University in the UK. Finally, Joel is a professional speaker who teaches people about leadership, education, and blended family life.
Victor Ahipene: Speaking nation, what’s happening? Welcome to another episode of Public Speaking Secrets. I’m your host, Victor Ahipene. And today I think this is going to be beneficial for a lot of you who are uh, uh, thinking about jumping into the speaking world who are thinking about adding it as a bow to what they are already doing, uh, and are looking for your potential steps and potential ways to maybe pivot from what you’re currently doing. It can compliment, uh, speaking because I’ve got Joel, Joel Hawbaker and he is situated in Alabama, is a teacher who on the side does a lot of speaking on different topics to help people with leadership education and also blended family life. And I think we’re going to be able to get some, some pretty cool things out of that. So welcome to the show Joel
Joel Hawbaker: Thank you very much. Excited to be here and looking forward to our conversation.
Victor Ahipene: Let me start off with, you’re a teacher, so you obviously, I guess presenting on the daily, which is this obviously slightly different because yeah, after you’ve done it, anything, a lot of times you can kind of fall into and to the, yeah, there’s not as much nerves when you’re potentially in front of the class. How did you, uh, come about speaking outside of school? Like how did that all come about for you?
Joel Hawbaker: Well, the first couple times I did it came about actually from my teaching, uh, that is, uh, a number of the schools that I’ve taught at are a small Christian High Schools. And, uh, so we would do kind of chapel or worship services, uh, once every week or once every month or whatever it was. And I got asked to speak at a couple of those events and, uh, and so that was really a lot of fun. I enjoyed it. I got some good feedback about it. And then, um, just within it, I guess it was about two or three years ago, um, I decided to look into speaking outside of the school setting entirely. And so started to look into different kind of, um, local business organizations or civic groups or things like that. And started to ask myself the question, okay, I know I like to be in front of people. I love to have a microphone and love to have an audience. Um, in what way could I best serve them? How could I best go about bringing value to the people that I’m in front of? What would be the topic that I should focus on? What would be the kind of group that I would like to speak to the best? Uh, what kind of audience resonates with the message that I’m going to be bringing? And started asking some of those questions as well. And uh, and so that was it just kind of a, it Kinda has developed from there.
Victor Ahipene: And what was the answer to those questions and how did it shape, I guess approaching the first places that you did start speaking it.
Joel Hawbaker: So, yeah, the answers to these questions, you actually mentioned in the introduction, there are kind of three topics that I love to really speak about. Uh, that’s Leadership, Education, and Blended Family Life. And the reason I settled on those is because those are three topics that are near and dear to me. Those are three topics that I’ve lived a lot of and they’re three topics that I’ve studied a lot of. And so I wanted to put the knowledge and the expertise that I have into, uh, into practice. And, um, and so what that did is then it shaped who I would speak to, uh, because of the topic that is, if I’m going to be speaking on leadership, uh, what I’m going to be doing is looking for organizations that want to improve their leadership, whether it’s from the very top are kind of mid level or whatever it may be. Um, and so, uh, started looking for organizations that would be willing to let me come and talk with them. A education, same kind of thing. So you start looking at teachers’ conferences or teacher organizations or administrator conferences or administrator organizations. Um, the blended family life is what I’ve really been focusing on for about the past three or four months. And that’s been really a very different challenge simply because now instead of looking at businesses or schools, I’m looking at either family conferences or church groups or I’m looking at helping individual families. Uh, and so that’s been really good as well. I’m, I’m part of a blended family. My parents divorced when I was in middle school and I grew up with, uh, from then on, uh, had a Stepdad for about a year after that. Um, and then as an adult I’m divorced and remarried and my first wife has remarried. I have two daughters from the first marriage that go back and forth my house to her house each week. Uh, and so that’s a lot of what we have lived for the past five or six years. And again, as a result of that, it’s allowed me to use both my studying knowledge, what I’ve learned from reading books about it, but also my personal experience to try to help other people. And that’s been really a lot of fun as well, to, um, to be able to see improvements in the lives of other people because of being able to work with them. That’s been fun.
Victor Ahipene: Yeah. Nice. I mean that will seem like areas you’ve got awesome experience. And when I, and I want to first dive into the leadership side of things in the end, hopefully be able to overcome a barrier that a lot of people have with the knowledge that they already know, but with the leadership side of things, what, what did you feel gave you the, the authority or the expertise to speak in that? Like what was the past history? Um, you’ve talked to the family and the education. Obviously you’re a teacher, but go, go take us through that.
Joel Hawbaker: Yeah. So for me, leadership doesn’t necessarily refer to a title. It refers to an approach to whatever situation you’re in. So I ended up, uh, I’ve written both an ebook and a full length paper back book on leadership. And in both of those, one of the things that I really stress is servant leadership. That is using your expertise in order to help other people and make them better. And you can do that regardless of what your official position is. Uh, but for me, I started being in positions of leadership when I was in high school, whether it was serving as a class officer or whether it was serving as a captain on a couple of different athletic teams. Um, in college, the scholarship that I had, part of it was leadership based and so we, we had to take special classes each semester that were designed to both study and analyze leadership and put us in positions to exercise at a young age. Right. Then I got married for the first time at age 19. My first daughter was born when I was 21. So obviously parenting, uh, has a lot to do with leadership in the home. Um, and then I’ve been a teacher and a coach and so a lot of what I’ve been doing is leading young people for the past 13 or 14 years that I’ve been doing this. Um, so I don’t have a lot of experience in the corporate world. Obviously. I’ve never worked in that kind of well. So I don’t speak to corporate audiences because the leadership that I have exercised hasn’t been in that world. Same kind of thing with the military. Um, so what I speak to a lot of is I speak to families or I speak to small organizations because I’ve led those kinds of things. And so again, it’s, it’s tailoring who I speak to based on the experience I have. I, I mean, I believe that my message would be helpful, but I think it would be hard for a lot of business leaders to hear me come and speak to them because I haven’t been in the business world very much. So it’d be very obvious for them to look at me and say, what do you have to teach us that we don’t already know? That’s a very valid question. And so that’s not an audience that would probably fit very well with my message. I think it probably would, but I can understand from their end if they thought, yeah, no thanks.
Victor Ahipene: Yeah. It’s a lot more barriers of entry for you to get over in and people when it comes. And this is the, this is the bit I want to dive into because I think a lot of people under estimate, uh, the knowledge that they have within the industry and the ability to help other people. So you said you speak yeah. It, oh yeah. The conference as you look towards, or like educational conferences and things like that for your talks relative to education. Did you, when you’re first getting started have, uh, yeah, fears or doubts, you know, when you’re speaking to other people in the industry and within your own industry, uh, yeah. About the education space and I guess, you know, what, what do you feel that you, you give to other colleagues and things like that when you’re, when you’re speaking in that space? I know it’s a bit of a convoluted question.
Joel Hawbaker: No, but I understand where you’re coming from. Um, I think that to answer the first part of that question, um, I didn’t have, I didn’t have a whole lot of fears and doubts about my ability to deliver a good, uh, a good presentation or a good speech. Uh, and the reason for that is because as you mentioned earlier, like I’ve been teaching for over a decade and with all due respect to high school kids, there are not a whole lot of tougher audiences that a bunch of disinterested, jaded teenagers Yup. And my job every day is to keep dozens of them interested, right. Because I’m a history teacher for the most part and I don’t know how it’s taught necessarily, um, in other parts of the world. But I know in the, in the states, a lot of times the topic of history is just kind of a throwaway. People don’t care because it’s not on any of the standardized tests and they don’t care because it’s been taught by people who aren’t very good at a lot of the time. Um, well that’s what I majored in at university. That’s what I, that’s what I love studying. And so for me, history is endlessly fascinating. So I feel like I do a pretty decent job of making it interesting to the kids. Well, same kind of thing. So when I go speak about education, when I go speak about leadership or blended family life, um, I, I don’t really doubt my ability to keep the audience engaged and interested because a lot of what I do is storytelling. And so that’s a lot of fun. Um, the second part of your question had to do with what is it that I kind of bring to the table? And it’s interesting because there’s a, again, maybe two parts to that. The first one is I always bring a lot of energy. Uh, this is again, these are topics that I love, these your topics I care about and that comes through when I’m speaking to an audience. Um, and so I think anytime that you can, uh, I think, uh, one of the things I’ve learned from a couple of different courses I’ve taken is that a lot of times the audience takes their queue from you. So if I come on stage and I’m very low energy and um, you know, just kind of speaking in a regular kind of tone of what they’re not, they’re not going to pay attention for very long. Right. But if I’m on stage and I’m excited and I’m pumped and I’ve got them excited, well now we can really have a great conversation for up there. Um, so that’s one part. The other thing that I think I bring that’s kind of unique is I bring a background that’s not from the corporate world, uh, against. So a lot of the, a lot of the speakers that you hear, uh, and that’s not a bad thing, but a lot of them come from the business world or the entrepreneurship world. Well, that’s not a bad place to be. I’m learning about that world. But my background, my background is in education. My background is in a family life, you know, that kind of thing. And so a lot of the stories I tell are not stories about how business A did something and therefore they became a better business. A lot of the stories that I tell have to do with something that a person did or that a family did or that a student did or that a soccer team did or whatever it may be. And so there’s the, the stories are different and a lot of times, again, that that keeps people’s interest because it’s something other than what they’ve heard before. You know what I mean? Uh, and so again, by, by, by bringing a different or unique background and by bringing an energetic and an engaging conversation, what those things are, um, those are ways that I can show, especially to an audience that may or may not have been sure whether I was worth listening to. These are ways that I can show them, no, he, he brings a lot of value. He brings a lot of learning. This is something we should probably do. And so that’s been really fun.
Victor Ahipene: I love that because I mean, I see a lot of people who, uh, because they know it, they think everyone knows it. It was a lot of the stuff. Like, I mean if you go onto a stage and present and you’ve got one key takeaway that changes say a large percentage of the audience’s approach to a particular part of any of the topics that you talk about value, they might know some of the other stuff that you’ve, you’ve spoken about. But I mean I say like I’m a trained physiotherapist. All that physical therapist.
Joel Hawbaker: Yeah. Yeah. Awesome.
Victor Ahipene: I am an expert in that area. I can teach nine out of 10 people something about their body weight. I can probably teach a lot of physiotherapists who haven’t had as much experience a lot about that particular thing. If it came to getting invited to a conference and I haven’t done been a researcher or professor or come out right and Greg Brett groundbreaking technique. I’m not an expert in that sitting, but for a huge amount of other things. Yeah. I might go and say speak to doctors and I can teach them stuff about particular things or I might be able to speak to personal trainers and there’s a lot of people think they haven’t got stuff to share, but I think they, yeah, they, they massively underestimate. It’s kind of expert syndrome. They either try and either teach or they fear that they haven’t got the expertise because they’re not the top 1% of their industry. So I mean it’s really cool and I think you’re a shining example of you’ve got experience in different areas. You stay in your lane with it and you, you, you bring value to your audience because you’ve had these experiences that a lot of people either heaven or they haven’t found the solution to it. And so yeah, full, full, full credit on that, on that side of things. It, it’s, it’s awesome to see you take us through getting those or what you kind of did to get those first speaking engagements, reaching out to those, you know, what you see the business organizations or the educational side of things. Was there anything that you’ve seen over your time that you’ve found to be particularly effective or and things that you said, oh look, I shouldn’t have done it this way cause it was kind of a waste of time.
Joel Hawbaker: Yeah, so a couple of different things. The first thing that I did was to try to learn about that from other people because the, the, again, the content on stage, I can, I know that I can do that. I mean obviously that can always improve. Um, but I feel pretty comfortable once I’m there. The hard part for me is learning how to reach out and how to contact organizations. So what I did is I actually went online and looked for a couple of different courses about how to do that. And the one that I found that was the most helpful to begin with, um, was uh, uh, uh, an organization called Booked and Paid to Speak. And it’s taught by a guy named Grant Baldwin and he’s been awesome. Um, and one of the things that he really teaches is to start out small and then kind of work your way up. That is if I want to talk with teacher organizations, I don’t need to start by looking at international or National Tiki teaching symposiums, right? I need to look within my county, within my small region, you know, local area and say, when is their next meeting and who do I contact about maybe speaking there. And then, so that was the first step is to start kind of local instead of trying to start on a giant stage. Because again, like you mentioned earlier, I have a lot of barriers to entry in certain fields. Um, and so as a result of that, um, it’s easier to get my foot in the door at a small place than it would be at a large place. So that’s one thing I would mention to people. Um, the second thing then is once you have decided where you want to start trying to look, um, to remember that what you’re trying to do is build a relationship with that organization or that decision maker, you’re not just trying to sell them yourself from the very beginning. And again, that was something that, um, it, it took me a while to grasp, but it makes total sense if, if I get an email out of the blue from someone I’ve never heard of and it’s five pages long about how great they are and what their experiences, but I’m not reading that whole thing. I don’t care. Right. But if I get an, or if I get an email that says, hi, my name’s Joel, and I was just asking when your next conference is because I’d love to learn more about your organization. Well, great. That’s awesome. Thanks for asking about us. Because people love to talk about themselves. Right? And I’ve just given them an opportunity to do that. Uh, and so that’s one of the things that Grants organization was really great about teaching is when you reach out to people the way that you do that needs to, needs to show that you’re actually interested in them. Right? It needs to show that you’ve done a little bit of research about who they are and it needs to show that you care about learning what they are about and how they help people and how you can help them help people better. Because once they learned that, now they’re actually interested. Right. Um, and so again, it’s, it’s not just a sales technique. It’s actually caring about the relationship when you do that. And it gets the same sort of thing I learned from uh, Bob Burg. I don’t know if you know him, he’s the author of the Go-Giver series, which is just, okay. Yeah. So he talks a lot about that. Like he, you know, he talks a lot about how what we need to be doing is finding out how we can better serve other people and build good relationships and connect other people. Because maybe I reach out to an organization and they’re not interested in me as a speaker because of whatever reason. Well, what if I can connect them with someone else who’s a better fit for their organization? Has that helped me? Not really, but it has, it has helped them. And so later on when they find out someone who needs a speaker like me, I’m going to be in their mind because they’re going to go, hey, Joel was really generous. He wasn’t what we were looking for, but he connected us with someone else who was. And so again, it’s, it’s all about serving other people, whether it directly benefits me or not, because ultimately my goal is to help you and if the best way I can help you is to point you in the direction of someone else, so be it. I’m not going to take that personally. That’s okay. Um, and so that’s been, uh, you know, just a few things that I’ve learned about how to go about doing those things well.
Victor Ahipene: Yeah, I think those are awesome tips of that as the whole, what’s in it for me? Everyone cares about what’s in it for them. But too many people lead with what’s in it for themselves, not for the other person. Like if you can start with as the, I sat a lot, it’s the proposing on the first date. It’s, yes. Yeah. It’s like, yeah, okay. Like, you know, I’ve come real hot here and uh, yeah, I really enjoyed the state. It was a great movie. Should we get married and um, yeah. It’s like, oh, hey, I googled your website and see you’ve got a conference. He should probably hire me as a speaker because according to me, I’m great.
Joel Hawbaker: Because I’m better than everyone else.
Victor Ahipene: Yeah. And I mean, I’ve actually, I actually heard a, another good lesson on that as well as start off with a win win situation with asking conferences about, uh, leading with, hey, just interested about your, uh, like sponsor and stand stuff and also any speaking opportunity. So you lead with, hey, I’d like to potentially give you money. It doesn’t mean you necessarily are going to, but it’s like, oh, okay, well I’ve been looking for, you know, sponsors for the event or I’ve been looking for people to have that stands outside the thing. Um, cool. I’ve seen Joel Hawbaker and it’s, you know, it’s the thing of reciprocity. Yeah. Well let’s have a look and see if you can speak as well. Um, so yeah, it’s, it’s all of those things that are kind of, yeah. You can come across as genuine as possible and like you say, it might be in two years time, they’re looking for a speaker on that topic. Yeah. It’s the same for Tedx events that people try and get to. They don’t realize that each event every year has a different thing. Yeah. So they try and pitch what they think’s going to be a great talk that doesn’t fit the theme and they never got to get across the line because they’re just doing that. But at the same time, it’s okay. Oh, cool. That themes, probably not for me, but I know someone who would be great, I might nominate. And the next year that’s got you top of mind because you recommended a future speaker. Um, no, but I think, yeah, those are awesome, awesome. Uh, things that I, I’m so jealous of. You know, there’s opportunities obviously everywhere in the world, but I get jealous of the United States when I see, yeah. I could teach as national conference and then knowing that there’s, you know, 50 plus state conferences. Yeah. There’s, there’s some that there’s some states the size of and bigger than the whole of Australia where I live and know multiply times bigger than the BLM where I’m originally from. So it’s kind of like, yeah, but for everyone is, there’s a multitude of opportunities out there. It’s just a matter of, and I think all the lesson that I’m taking out of it, and I think a lot of people will always find out what message you want to get across that you did that really clearly when you’re not trying to serve everyone in every way you can. Yeah. You can now look for the particular organizations you want to for leadership and for education and the type of talk that you’re doing and blended family life. You’re not trying to be the speaker that offers everything to everyone and nothing to anyone. So brilliant. It’s just in that. So for that, I just want to thank you and I want to welcome you to Speaking Nation. If people wanted to find out more about you, check you out, um, or maybe get in contact, where can they go and what can they do?
Joel Hawbaker: Yeah. Thank you for asking. Um, so the easiest way to get in touch with me is on my website. It’s very easy to find. It’s ww.reallifeleading.com. Um, and then I’ll know there’s a contact Joel form, it’ll send me an email. Uh, you can also follow me on Twitter as the same thing. It’s @ RealLifeLeading or you can find me on linkedin and Facebook under my name, Joel Hawbaker. Uh, and those are the best ways to get in touch with it. You can find out more about me on my website. I’ve got a couple of videos, I’ve got lots of information about leadership and blended family stuff in education. Um, and uh, yeah, so again, come by, check it out. Any of your listeners have any questions? Man, I’d love to answer them and uh, help out however I can.
Victor Ahipene: Brilliant. Well I appreciate all your time and the knowledge that you’ve shared. I think this will give a lot of people their motivation to be able to combine, combine the the day to day passion, and then also be able to serve in a, in another way. So I look forward to hopefully sharing the stage somewhere in the world and the, and the near future. And we’ll link every way to get in touch with Joel at publicspeakingblueprint.com where you can find that in all our previous episodes. And again, thank you so much for your time, Joe.
Joel Hawbaker: It’s absolutely been my pleasure. Thanks Victor.