How I became a Hall of Fame Speaker

The view was Italian. The champagne was French. And the client was Australian. Here’s how I was nominated for the Virtual Speakers Hall of Fame.

Click here to read the press release, and view my showcase Hall of Fame video.

Here is a truth that is not self-evident enough: it takes an outrageous and ambitious decision to start a business, and yet most business owners are not living the outrageous and ambitious life of their dreams.

While helping others live their rich life, I wanted to make sure I didn’t fall into that trap myself. And that has meant questioning rules and pushing boundaries for the whole length of my career.

The “remote and virtual coaching” epiphany arrived in 2010. My beautiful wife and I had long agreed to move to London for a period, and having postponed it in 2009 due to the global financial crisis we knew that 2010 was now or never. My mentor talked up the opportunity as “Don’t waste a good recession“, and we were off. But how could I continue to love and service my antipodean clients?

  • 2010 – Arrived in London. Thanks to the great recession, $100,000 of client work was cancelled in the weeks leading up to our move!
  • 2010/11 – My first 100% remote business coaching client. While leadership and executive coaching was usually 1-on-1 and readily done via phones or video calls – working to create change in whole leadership teams was a novel challenge.
  • 2011 – I bought my first Smartphone! FaceTime and Zoom wouldn’t be launch until 2013.
  • 2011-2013 – An increasing number of remote client projects, and especially providing mentoring to other business coaches in the USA, Canada, and Australia.
Which is more of a tool: A consultant or a coach?
Me speaking at London New Finance in 2011

My beautiful wife and I returned to Australia at the end of 2012, having decided it was “now or never” to start a family. As I’ve shared in one of my podcast series, that proved a long and ultimately successful journey as our daughter was born in 2019.

In 2016, we rebuilt our business vision, placing travel and family at the heart. Specifically, we wanted to make 100% of our income location independent, and that meant continuing to improve my skills as a virtual speaker and remote business advisor.

We had the Vision. We built the Strategy. And (much like the 9th round of IVF), it worked!

My 2016+ Vision Board

In 2019, the year my daughter was born, we became fully remote digital nomads. I worked from 21 different countries that year as we toured the world with our newborn. Some of that was in person – when a client is based in Swindon, they LOVE LOVE LOVE a visitor – but mostly my clients enjoyed vicariously seeing the world.

That level of remote work is not easy, especially if (as I did) you want to give yourself a payrise to help fund the growing family. But even complaining about the logistics (relocating from Vienna to Barcelona on the day daylight saving ended; trying to find a private courtyard for video calls in Paris) sounds like a reddit thread of humblebrags.

And you need to be good. The moment a client feels your focus is on the backdrop, not their needs, is the moment you lose that client. It’s one thing to build a skill in preparation, and another thing to learn from execution – I learned so much about virtual speaking and remote business coaching in 2019.

Which was handy. Because then 2020 happened.

But let me back up slightly, to one key event that led to being nominated for the Virtual Speakers Hall of Fame. One of those 21 countries I worked from in 2019 was the USA, where I attended the National Speakers Association ‘Influence’ conference in Denver CO, part of my training investment in Jacqueline Nagle’s excellent work.

Sharing the stage with Jacqueline Nagle, Martin Brooker, Kerri Potharst, Kari Sutton and more!

There I was connected with some of the best speakers from around the world, and in particular welcomed into the Cigar Peg philanthropic association. When the world changed, conferences were cancelled, and most professional keynote speakers found themselves out of work, it was the Cigar Peg community that kept us sharpening the saw. Their weekly calls (which, I confess, I don’t attend all of since they happen at 5am Australian time) allowed me to continue to develop and share my craft.

My history and wisdom seemed suited for Covid, and the Coronavirus Recession. (And not just because I once held the Guinness World Record for sitting in a room watching movies and not being allowed to leave.)

Having helped businesses around the world through the Great Recession / GFC in 2008-2013, and with my expertise in virtual speaking, in March 2020 I launched “Don’t Waste a Good Recession” on YouTube etc. In 2021 I co-authored an international best-selling book Remote Working.

I was a man in demand! In addition to speaking at conferences on the Recession topic (and opportunities created), I had companies from around the world engaging me to help them sell, deliver, and service their clients – through online means for the first time ever.

Virtual Speakers Hall of Fame Nomination

And this was the confluence of events that led to my Hall of Fame nomination.

A network of exceptional, talented speakers in the USA. Ongoing, practical experience helping organisations deliver work remotely. And a recession message that continues to resonate in 2022.

It’s an honour to be nominated, for sure. And to be the first Australian to receive that accolade. And this is why I chose “Don’t Waste a Good Recession” as my showcase video, delivered live to the USA in July 2022.

Because it was the opportunity of an economic downturn that prompted me to move to London, and source my first remote business coaching work. And it was the positive and practical message of “choose your own reality” that led my family to make some outrageous choices – including the decision to travel the world full-time right before a pandemic!

The Future of Virtual Speaking and Remote Events

The world is reopening.

I am currently in Brisbane, Australia – with clients as far afield as New Jersey and Dubai. I love getting on a plane again … and I am fortunate that my experience over the past 10+ years means I don’t need to, that I can deliver a keynote presentation to a conference anywhere in the world (at short notice and with no travel costs).

Keep that in mind for yourself.

What is the outragous and ambitious life you wish you were leading?

And next time you need a professional keynote speaker to talk about business, the economy, and leadership … why not choose one of the best in the world, Hall of Fame nominee Jacob Aldridge?

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