Get Booked as a Speaker Ep13 with Ryan Foland

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Would you like to learn how to harness the power of vulnerability and authenticity to build a better, more relatable, more profitable personal brand? We’ve got just most awesome guy for you!

International keynote speaker and Managing Partner of InfluenceTree, Ryan Foland, has been recognized by Inc. Magazine as a Top Marketer and named a Top Personal Branding Expert by Entrepreneur Magazine for his amazing work!

Ryan shows corporations and how to turn their employees into influencers. He is the inventor of the 3-1-3® Method, a process whereby your brand or business idea begins as three sentences, condenses into one sentence and then boils down to three words. His book Ditch The Act: Leverage the Surprising Power of the Real You for Greater Success, will be published in October 2019 by McGraw-Hill.

Get in touch with Ryan Foland, click on the links below.

Victor Ahipene: Speaker Nation, sending a welcome to another episode of public speaking secrets. I’m your host, Victor Ahipene, and so we’ve got Ryan Folan on who is a keynote speaker who’s absolutely obsessed was personal branding. I’ve watched a few of US talks, pretty humorous, but also got deep seating messages for helping your business and we’re going to delve into a bit of a speaking side of things and then how he’s been able to leverage that in a whole lot more. So I hope you’re all excited and buckle in because I’m going to welcome Ryan. 


Ryan Foland: Oh boy. It’s good to be here. And I know its secret. So, uh, so I feel like we’re kind of like, we’re cheating. We’re giving the secrets away. I feel like we shouldn’t be whispering or something.


Victor Ahipene: We can, we can, we can whisper. Whisper away. Thanks. Thanks for jumping on. Firstly, but, uh, can you give people, I guess a bit of a background about, you know, you’re not necessarily your journey to get to where you are, but we always a confident public speaker. Was it something that always came naturally to you? And if it did, if it didn’t, like how, how have you kind of progressed from there.


Ryan Foland: And so before I was a professional speaker, I like to consider myself a professional whistler and that stopped and I’m in second grade, so I was always kind of gregarious and I came from a family of educators so I was very focused in school and that pretty quickly pegged me as a nerd. So a lot of my early life was being picked on for what I thought was cool because I was taught that school is cool. And so I found that, um, you know, I, I kind of turned towards trying to, I guess it’s classically when you don’t get the attention you might get some negative attention. And so I thought that whistling was the coolest thing and then I got caught for whistling and class and so I learned how to whistle through my teeth and the teacher still knew it was me and I thought I was being all sneaky and everything like that. But that’s a story that kind of sticks out because I’ve always used my voice as a way to communicate. Um, but when I say voice, it’s more than just my voice. Uh, it’s the 4,000 micro movements in my face. It’s the way that I hold my body. It’s the way that I’m leaning in or out. And I learned that out of necessity because I was being bullied, like physically bullied, harassed. I actually got bullied out of school, went to another school. It got so bad I went back to the initial school and as a result of that, my, my father put me into martial arts. And it was really when I started to train in martial arts that I realized the power of your voice, which is what you look like and the way that you’re breathing and the way that you hold presence. And so through martial arts I was able to communicate without communicating and that’s really what sparked my passion for the ability to talk without talking. And so I’ve always been confident in communicating because I was in a position where I was forced to basically stand up to those people that were putting me down. And it’s easy to be put down when you don’t know what to say or you’re shy and your body just sort of says that. And when I’m, there was a certain point where I was working in an APP development company and still passionate about the bullying issue and we developed the first ever anti cyberbully App and this is right when apps were starting and it was called a word bullying and it put a filter on different words that would come into the cell phone and trigger it and go back up to the parents. And so they could go right with the source. And so it just naturally, I wanted to speak about this. So I was speaking at high schools, I was speaking to elementary schools and I don’t think I consider myself a speaker, but the impact that I was able to have on the students and the people coming up to me afterwards. And then just the traction that we got. I just had this epiphany. Like, here I am standing up on a chair talking to hundreds of students and they heard me. And so that’s when I really realized that, uh, it is my sharpest tool and from that point forward it’s been what I lead with to


Victor Ahipene: To dive into that just a little bit more for the people who, uh, you know, all of us out there wanting to have a big impact and I’m passionate about it being, you know, via speaking with it. That’d be podcasting on stage in front of groups. For you, for you, was the getting up in front of the scope, was it primarily to get this app out there or were you charging a fee to go and speak? How we’re you approaching. Because I know a lot of people that I talked, so I used to run a podcast called the Youngpreneurs and a lot of, um, a lot of people they want to get into schools to speak, to share this message, to have this impact. What are some of your insights on that side of things?


Ryan Foland: Well, it’s not as easy to speak at schools as you would think. They have limited budget. They have limited time. All their assemblies and the amount of time that students have to be in school are all set. And what we had done is we actually had an entire bus that was, that was wrapped and we would drive it to these schools and it was about, you know, the dangers of texting and driving and texting, bullying. And so we had a larger, uh, backing when it went to it, and we were speaking for exposure of the App and for the cars. But when I was there, I wasn’t trying to get money out of it. Uh, it was literally just sharing my story and was kind of a default because nobody else was comfortable speaking in front of the crowd. So it happened as a default, but to speak specifically to this idea of impact. Um, I’m going to sort of spin it on its head and I argue that nobody cares what you do. And I think that there’s a huge misconception out there, right? You have impact and you want to do something. Well, nobody cares what you do. And I argue that they only care about the problem that you solve. And as soon as you flip that thing, start to make sense because nobody wants at a school and nobody wants you to come in and talk about your talk. But if the school has a problem that you can solve, they might be interested in it. A company doesn’t want to just have another speaker come and talk, but if the company is has a specific problem that you’ve identified and you approach them and say, I know you have a problem, I can solve that problem. It just so happens to be that I’d end up speaking. That’s really where the magic happens. So my challenge to you is if you know whatever it is that you’re doing, a, forget about that for a minute and think about what it is that you’re doing. What is the problem that that solves? And a really fun exercise for people is, is answering the question that we all get asked. What do you do? And one of the most powerful things you can do when somebody asks you what you do is tell them it’s not what you do that’s important. It’s going to take everything within your soul to say that, but as soon as you do it changes the conversation. They’re going to look at you funny and they’re going to say, excuse me. You say, it’s really not what I do that’s important. It’s the problem that I solve. That’s why I get up in the morning and that’s what I’m passionate about like I it’s a burning in me to solve this problem, and then they’re going to say, well, what’s the problem that you solve? Now they’re asking you for the information and you tell him the problem without telling you, without telling them what you do, and then they’re gonna say, well, how do you solve that problem? Then you have an opportunity to share what it is, but you can get people interested in what you do without telling them what you do. If you solely focus on the problem that you solve, so if you have an impact that you want to make, reverse engineer that and ask yourself, what is the problem that you were addressing? And if you can convince people of that, that’s the quicker way to the stage. That’s the quicker way in front of an audience because nobody cares what you do. They care about the problem that yourself. 


Victor Ahipene: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s something people don’t understand in marketing in general. They, they talk about, I’ve got a phd or I’ve got this and this, and you use these social triggers that help once people realize you can solve their problem, but again, it doesn’t matter. It’s can you solve their problem? 


Ryan Foland: There’s thousands and thousands of people that all look the same. Like exactly. I am obsessed with personal branding and I think that’s the one way to stand out. So if you want to speak at schools, right, you’ve got to be different. Don’t, don’t look and smell like everyone else out there that’s doing the exact same thing. Find something that’s unique. Find something that’s particular about you. What, what is it that makes you different? And I think there’s just too many people who look the same and are creating the same messages, thinking that that’s what they should do. When, if you really want to make an impact chasing after the problem that you’re solving and getting creative about it, I think that’s what really works. 


Victor Ahipene: And so I predominantly with we’ll chat about, um, your, your message and what problem you’re solving, what, what keeps you busy throughout the day, like is it going into companies and consulting or to, and things like that. What problem are you solving? And then from a presentation point of view or classes or seminars or however you’re doing it, how have you crafted a message? Is it, is it a message that you can, uh, solve multiple problems with depending on the company or how does that kind of look and I just about 58 questions in there?


Ryan Foland: Yeah, no, that’s good. I counted 57. So, so the problem that I solve is that people talk too much. They talk so much that they talk themselves out of opportunity of a job at a business, out of relationships. And my solution is this methodology that I call the 3-1-3 method and it helps people position what they do or what their ideas in three sentences, one sentence in three words. And that’s it. I think that too, oftentimes people try to solve more than one problem or they feel like having more than one solution is a better thing. Adam Grant, who’s an author I respect a lot, just tweeted out the other day, um, the importance of not giving too much information away for what you do because it confuses people. You know, if you say that you speak on this and this and this and this and this, you’re not going to look like a full solution to somebody. And for me, having a method, having the system, that’s 3-1-3, that is my keynote. But I can tell you how the 3-1-3 relates to a personal brand. I can tell you how the 3-1-3 relates to leadership. I can tell you how the three, one three relates to sales, but I’m not out there saying I talk on sales, I talk on leadership, I talk on this, I talk about my 3-1-3. And so I find that there’s a lot of opportunity to put a name on whatever it is that you’re doing. If you’re talking about customer service. So many people are talking about customer service. I’ve got a friend Joshua, he talks about the Tingling compass. What is the tingling compass? I don’t know. I kind of want to know about it. It’s a tingling feeling inside of you, which is your intuition and that’s how he talks about company culture and following that compass. Um, so what is it that you’re doing and how can you package it into a way that sounds cool? Like the 3-1-3 method. What is that? I, I don’t know. Is this something to Eminem is involved with? No. Uh, but I do rap sometimes about it. I’ve got 3-1-3 rap. So I’m pretty sure that by the way. So the idea is that you want to be seen as a full solution and what I do during the day, um, I essentially do one of the few things, you know, I’m either developing content writing, I’ve got a podcast, the world of speakers, I’ve got a radio show called the 3-1-3 show. I’m also a host on the scale of heroes’ podcast. So three ways where my sharpest tools being used on an audio format. Then we have courses that we’ve created at influence tree to help people build their brands and we consulting with executives and then we work with corporations to teach them how to create internal influence by giving their employees, um, encouragement to build their own personal brands. 


Victor Ahipene: Nice. And then what does that look like? Is that just keynote presentations with um, with the corporations? Is that going in and doing day trainings or multiple day trainings or like how, how does it look for. 


Ryan Foland: Yes, yes and yes. So, so keynote is a great way to solve the problem for one to many. And then we’ll do a, we’ll do actual workshops with the executives and we also have executive clients that hire us to work with them on a one on one to help position and create their content because the trick to getting paid for your services is to find people that have the money but don’t have the time. And a lot of times we’re chasing after people that have the time and don’t have the money and they might really appreciate your information, but they’re going to take the time to do it on their own. Or they’re just, they’re just not in a position to have somebody else do it for them. And you know, I call it for myself personally, I’ve been going through a transition where a initially a lot of my target market, we’re entrepreneurs, but I’ve found out and realized that they love the content, but they try to do it on their own and they don’t have the money to pay for me. So I’ve created sort of a transition into working more with an executive crowd and with corporations. But it doesn’t mean I’m not creating content that the entrepreneurs can eat and gobble up because it’s okay to have a community of people that you’re sharing information with and I’m of the belief or the school of thought. Whatever information I have, I’m going to give it all away. Like you go to my site, you can find out everything about the 3-1-3. I’m not hiding anything. But the idea is that if you create enough consistent content where people see you as a thought leader in a certain space, they’re going to think that they can do it on their own. You give all the information and they still have a hard time doing it and they come back to you at the end of the day. So I know some people giveaway just enough information to create interest, but then not enough for it to happen. And for me, I would rather just give it all away. I believe in abundance in that respect. 


Victor Ahipene: Yeah. I think it was funny, a fine line between the two. Not necessarily not wanting to give anything away. Oh, like not giving everything away, but also making sure that you know, that that person out there that you’re, you’re trying to serve who you know, may not be able to afford it or whatever. Um, you know, that that entrepreneur out there grinding it, it’s showing them the, the, the why more than the how, because like you’re saying with the over teaching, people get confused. You’re like, here’s everything. Right, okay, cool. I’m overwhelmed now. I don’t know where to start. Whereas, yeah, teasing out their problems, showing that you’ve got the solution. I mean, it is a fine line and uh, but yeah, I think that’s the economy that are, that a lot of successful business owners, entrepreneurs, trainers, uh, speakers are bureau hitting it in the, uh, yeah. Let’s not keep anything behind closed doors and in. Yeah, it’s Chad. I’ll let you know, work with the people who can afford to work with us and know that we can solve their biggest problem, which has given them more time. 


Ryan Foland: Yeah. One of the things that I find is true more times than not is that people are doing the right things. All of your listeners, the people that are listening right now, they’re probably doing exactly what they need to be doing, but there’s a good chance they’re doing it in the wrong order and if you think of a sailing analogy, I love to sail and when I’m out on the water, you know you’re. You’re monitoring a compass because that’s the direction that you’re going. Oftentimes you can’t see past the horizon and if you’re one or two degrees off for 20 to 30 miles, you end up in a completely different location. Now you’re doing all the right spots. You’re tending to the sales, your boats afloat, like everything is fine, but you end up in the wrong spot or you usually don’t even end up on my end at all. So I encourage people to see what is it that they’re doing now and are they doing it in the right order? Have you completely locked up your messaging before you go spread your messaging? Do you know the topics that you speak about and can you defend that before you try to go shop your keynotes? And so I think it’s exciting when I can help identify that people are doing the right stuff, but if you just move them around the order or take two steps back and make sure your compass courses correct, then you can actually get to where you want to go. 


Victor Ahipene: So again, for the, for the speakers out there looking to get into different spaces, what are your biggest. Oh, you’ll be. You’ll be strategies that have got you in with corporations and things like that. I realized that the leading with the problem that you solve, but as that particular people that you’re reaching out to as it been from the content that you’ve put out, like what? What have you found to have the most success for you? 


Ryan Foland: So the most success that creates the most amount of inbound leads is what I call validation. And that means that other people are saying that I’m an expert at what I do. And that comes as a process. So we talk about it as the four Vs. It’s your vision, figuring out where you want to go and that has to do with your positioning and your messaging. Then it’s about your voice. How are you going to communicate your content? Are you a writer? Are you great with audio? Are you great with video? Are you image based? Decide that first and then start creating content. The third V is volume. You know there are people that create amazing content that don’t syndicate it all over the place, so once you have your vision set up and you understand your voice and then you create volume with your content, validation is what happens. People start to ask you to be featured in a publication or given expert quote or you know, ask you to be on their podcast and all of those things. We talk about it as a success stacking. It doesn’t, doesn’t happen overnight, but when you get one feature, then it leads to another feature and the leads to another feature. And if you Google personal branding experts beneath the ads, I’m, I’m there listed among 10 other people as the first spot. So people will say personal branding experts to Google and literally Google says these are the guys and girls right here. So that’s a long-term play and that’s a result of focusing on a personal brand. So the, the answer that is the most difficult to achieve, which is the easiest, is that it’s when everybody else’s, I’m referring to you, top of mind when it comes to that. So that’s, that’s the, the larger answer. But to reverse engineer, you’ve got to lock up your vision. You’ve got to know where you want to go. You got to have your voice and know how you want to create the content. Then you’ve got to spread that content in the right channels. 


Victor Ahipene: I 100 percent agree with all of that and I think a lot of people want the short-term, like, what can I do? What’s the one thing that I can do that tomorrow will therefore make me an expert and authority? A top of mind, uh, businesses will be crawling to, you know, blow up my phone and things like that. And what you’ve got to understand is it’s not that you, your skill sets necessarily going to change and what you teach, but it’s a, it’s a longer game and you know, you’ve just got to be consistent and persevere and keep adding value and doing all those things you just mentioned, which are Super Handy. So I’d recommend everyone goes back to, goes back to those again. One, one more for the speakers out there. Like have spoken in additives conference as well. You have, what, three or four? Is it four?


Ryan Foland: Yeah, four so far.


Victor Ahipene: I know people who have, you know, the track that on their bucket list of, you know, big play to try to get into events. What’s your, what’s your secret? 


Ryan Foland: I’ve got, I’ve got plenty of them. There’s three ink articles that are out there that cover a step by step process before you think about applying the application process. And even after that, um, then when it comes to creating a talk, I have a post out there which is 30 steps of creating a killer talk. Right? And that’s, that’s once you’re on stage. But here’s, here’s the down and dirty. If you’re listening and you want to check off that bucket list because it’s possible. Number one, where did you go to college? Figure out if your college has a Tedx organization. If they do reach out to them and say, Hey, I’m an alumni, I see that you have a Tedx organization. I would love to come back and share my amazing story, my amazing idea that is probably the closest, lowest hanging fruit. Secondly, it is okay to apply for the talk. So many people, so many people think that they, that somebody else has to nominate them. That’s just a misconception when you were applying for a talk is very important that you apply early. And if you reverse engineer most of the events, uh, at least on a general, they’ll have like one big signature event during the year. It’s like a big spring event. They might have salon events. So find out when that is and usually you will learn about the event when it’s too late. So if you see the event, um, it’s probably too late, but then market calendar for six months beforehand and then we actually look for the call for speakers because oftentimes they’re so impacted. It’s not like they’re out. They’re broadcasting like, hey, apply apply.

They’re like so many people that they have to deal with. It’s kind of internal. And what you do then is you contact the organizer if it’s not a call for speakers and say, Hey, I loved your event last year. I wasn’t able to make it, but I followed you guys online. I’ve got an idea that I think is great. Um, let me know when your theme comes out. And I’d love to apply just like anything, the first few applications probably get more weight than the others. And a lot of the organizers are going to say, we’re not going to look at any applications until they’re all in. I don’t think that’s true because the earlier that you apply, the better chances that you have for it. Now it’s also important to understand that events that are in your town are really looking for a majority of people that are somewhat affiliated with their organization or in a small local area. And then there’s always an opportunity for one or two outsiders. So if you live in a certain area, you might have better luck being the outsider in a state far away. Okay? So most Tedx is, we’ll have one or two spots earmarked for somebody to come out of town. If you’re looking at, um, a sort of holistic spot, you either apply for it or they come and they come and ask you to do it. And my first Tedx that I got at Tedx UNLB, the talk is called how to not get chased by a bear if you want to know that. Um, I applied 12 different times over a series of like two years before I got my first bite, like 12 times. Like, that’s, that’s a lot of applications and people don’t realize that. But then I got my first one on the map. This is how you success stack. And then I was able to promote that accordingly. And then I got asked to do my second talk and then I got asked to do my third talk and then I was searching and I saw an ad, a call for speakers for Tedx Quincy that was big ideas in America.  And I had this burning idea. I’m like, oh my gosh, that is so on point for my theme.

So I reached out to them and the application was closed, but that didn’t stop me. I found out who the organizer was. I researched them on Linkedin, I got in touch with them and pitched him on Linkedin in a private message. And then they opened up the application. I was able to submit, I was head to head with 20 other people, uh, that made the second round because I was in late and I got the spot. So in a general sense, check with your Alma Mater, that’s a good, easy first bed. Get on the radar of where and when these events are. And then reverse engineer when the applications would be due and get a call for speakers in their early oftentimes will ask for video. It’s all about being yourself on the video, not highly produced, but just bringing your energy to it. And what encompasses all of this is that just like any event, people want people in seats, they want, they want to be able to fill the house, they got to cover their costs and if you have a large social following and you have an engaged community and you can bring that to the table at the same time, it only helps, which goes back to the personal brand and being on the red carpet is a great brand builder because it still baffles me, but a lot of people don’t know the difference between Ted and Tedx. Brand. Halo was so strong like I have not given a Ted talk yet I’ve given for Tedx talks, but the brand halo is strong because people just assume an associate you with everybody else that’s on the stage. Um, we actually have a course that we’ve created called the Ted effect and you can check it out at And we not only give away all of our insights and how I’ve been able to get on the stage and get others on the stage, but we’ve created a database of like four to 500 Tedx organizations and their websites and their contacts because half the battle is knowing where they are. So yes, it’s a bucket list, but follow those simple somewhat steps and just keep applying. People just don’t apply. Right. I want to do it. Well, I’ll ask people you want to get on the TEDX stage. Great. When was the last time you applied for it? Huh? Well I did, but it didn’t go in.

So you applied one time. Just one time. Really that’s it. Okay. Well I know exactly why you’re not there. So, uh, but again, if you want more referenced because I can’t speak too long on it. If you go to under media, there’s three ink articles that cover before, during, and after. Because guess what, if you don’t get, if you don’t get chosen and you just blow it off, that’s the wrong move. Still stay engaged. If you can go to the event, go to the event, if you can support them on social media, support them on social media at the end of the day, whether it’s a Tedx stage or it’s a keynote at a conference or at a major social media marketing event or something like that. It’s all relationships. At the end of the day, you’re either building a relationship, you’re maintaining a relationship or you’re accelerating the relationship and the organizers of these Tedx events, like I’m friends with them, I have a relationship, and so now I’m able to help introduce other people who I think would be great for their stage. So again, always think of things in a non-selfish way, like what can you give, give, give, and you can ask. So it’s a, it’s doable and it is exciting. It’s a fun platform, short form. Uh, it’s a great stage to spread ideas. 


Victor Ahipene: Yeah. I love the non-bias approach. There’s no ulterior motive, uh, when people were on stage, obviously people like to build their brand and then you’re not, you’re not selling, you’re not getting sold basically. And it, it’s just such a wide variety is funny when you were saying a lot of those points, I was just like tick, tick, tick in my head on, on the thing. And it’s a genuine hustle, like yeah, it’s not going to fall upon your lap unless you’re one of the biggest names in the world. Getting invited to a tape Ted talk. You Richard Branson or Tim Ferriss or someone. So like none of those, like if you, if you have it on your bucket list, which I literally put it on my bucket list at the start of last year and then August ticked it off. And yeah, it was an awesome experience. And Yeah, you learn a lot from it. But yeah, I think, uh, again, wholeheartedly agree and that I, I really, really loved the insights that you’ve given to people who are wanting to take their, you know, a lot of speakers that I come across that I trained that they all want to start taking my message and helping people in schools who are in companies or I want to give a Tedx talk and you’ve given some very practical ways. And we’ll link everything to, to your sites in the show at, but I’m sorry,, but I want to welcome you to speak in nation and just thank you so much for your time. If people do want to check out more about you, more about what you’re up to, the, the, the, uh, everybody in the three, one slash three and it’s, it goes along with it. Where can they go and what can they do? 


Ryan Foland: Yeah. So you can go to or just Google, Ryan Phelan and, and all my Tedx has come up there. And if you are really interested in upping your speaking game, then go to Subscribe to it. We have over 50 episodes. I just love meeting people and I love learning. So I basically find amazing people. I’m doing something very similar to what you’re doing is just helping my audience to learn. And I asked them who they are, what their tips are and how they get onto stages. And it’s amazing. I’m always learning and I’m humbled by the amount of, of advice that I get, but at the same time everybody listening is going into. So check out [inaudible] dot com and again, uh, just start to think of everything as a series of dots. My last question to you, how many dots does it take to make a line this geometry to exactly right? 

So think of every relationship that you have, the processes that you start as a series of dots and it’s, you have to connect the dots to create a line. A lot of people will say, send one application that’s a dot that doesn’t go anywhere. If we have this one conversation, that’s a dot, but if we don’t follow up afterwards or find a reason to connect afterwards or, or, uh, you know, continue to communicate. It’s just a dot. And so if you think of life as a series of dots that you have to create the order for there to be aligned. That’s the way that I approach my speaking. That’s the way that I get on stages. Every single chance I have. I’m trying to connect dots and you start with a dot, so everybody’s at the same spot, so this is a dot for you. 

Go out there and send out an application. That’s another dot. Build a relationship with somebody who’s in that organization, that’s another dot. Follow you and what you’ve done. There’s another dot, so just connect the dots and if you’re just, if you’re not finding traction, there’s a good chance that you’re just sort of one and done or you’re not finding the right way to connect those dots.


Victor Ahipene: Curating traction, you don’t take an action that is a dot is a ton of brilliant advice. India, I challenge all of you out there listening at the moment and speaking nation to go out and create those dots. Start today, do it. Do it right now when you’re watching it.


Ryan Foland: And if I can say one more thing because I know we’re out of time, but this, this gets back to the action. Successful speakers are not successful because they’re doing things and everybody else cannot do. Successful speakers are doing what everyone can do, but not everyone does. And that means sitting into Sharon writing a blog, going out and speaking for free if you need to, uh, and connecting these dots so it’s there. Stop looking for the hacks and start doing the work. That’s what I got to say. You’ve got it.


Victor Ahipene: Thank you my friend and I look forward to keeping these dots being connected, uh, of, of this podcast and, uh, you know, supporting and helping each other grow.


Ryan Foland: For sure about here. Let’s share the stage sometimes. Let’s make it happen. Thanks.