I first met Joey Coleman in a sushi restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina. (I love it when my mom’s speakers come to town. I also love sushi.)
The first thing I noticed about Joey was that he is a very funny guy! It’s easy to see why his customers love his programs and his energy. Joey speaks on customer experience and retention, which is very important for a successful business.
Over several salmon and tuna rolls, I learned all about Joey’s interesting background. He was a criminal defense attorney, a business consultant, and worked with the U.S Secret Service and the CIA. I even asked him to autograph his book for me, which he did.
Here’s what I asked Joey for my 8-part Summer Speaker Series:
CJ: What was your first job?
JC: My first “job” was mowing the lawn at my house growing up. We lived out in the country and had a very large lawn – 10 acres! I rode a tractor lawn mower that had a 6-foot-long blade underneath, and it still took me two days to mow the entire lawn (with trimming around the house and the trees using a push mower). It was like painting the Golden Gate Bridge… as soon as I finished, my Dad wanted me to start again!
My first “paid job” was the summer before 7th grade. My dad was a trial attorney working on a large federal anti-trust case and they needed someone to be a document courier, carrying documents from the courthouse to the law firm to make multiple copies and then returning with them. I didn’t have a briefcase with handcuffs on it, but I did get to use a briefcase and learned a lot about the law that summer (in between running back and forth between the federal courthouse and the copy machine at my dad’s office).
CJ: How did you become a professional speaker?
JC: I spent a lot of time speaking before becoming a professional speaker. I was on the high school speech and debate team. I was a spokesman/emcee for a group I sang with in college. I was on the law school mock trial and moot court teams. And I was a practicing criminal defense lawyer for several years. Prior to delivering keynote programs to corporate clients, I had already given thousands of speeches to audiences ranging from four people to over 4,000 people. I was running a branding company that I founded and one of my clients asked me to be a keynote speaker at their annual conference. That was the first time I was paid to give a business speech, and I loved every minute of it. An audience member at that event booked me for my next speech, and I’ve been speaking on business event stages ever since.
CJ: You speak on customer and employee experience. How did you choose your program topics?
JC: While my career has been very eclectic (trial attorney, business consultant, night school MBA professor, ad agency founder, etc.), I discovered that in every position I’ve had, the way to succeed was by having a keen understanding of the human condition: Why do humans do the things they do? What can we do to influence/persuade/convince them to do the things we’d like them to do?
This led me to study psychology, persuasion, influence, rhetoric, design, marketing, and many other disciplines. Over time, I blended these together and realized that it all came down to the emotional reaction people had when they interacted with you – in short, their experience. It was a natural transition to focus this in on customer experience and employee experience – two things that most businesses know are important, but don’t spend as much time focusing on as they should.
CJ: How did the COVID-19 quarantine affect you as a professional speaker?
JC: The main business impact of COVID-19 can be seen in the fact that I haven’t boarded an airplane in over 115 days! I think it’s been over a decade since I’ve gone that long without flying. While I certainly miss the chance to connect with audiences in person, I’m lucky that many of my clients have transitioned to remote presentations so we’re still able to connect, and I’m still able to teach while being quarantined at my home in Colorado. The really good news is that I’ve had more time with my family and more time to work on my next book which is all about employee experience.
CJ: What is your favorite thing about speaking?
JC: I LOVE feeling the energy of the audience and then crafting my presentation to serve their needs. While I certainly know the topic on which I’m going to speak, there are a variety of ways I can adjust the presentation in real time to serve their needs. If it’s an energetic, fun-loving audience I can increase the energy and humor to get them rolling. If it’s a more stoic, reserved crowd, I can bring to bear my training as a lawyer to thoughtfully build a case that keeps them engaged. In short, the best thing about speaking is the people in the audience.
CJ: What advice would you give a middle school student?
JC: This is my favorite question yet! I would recommend that middle school students try as many different things as possible. Play sports. Audition for the school musical. Take an art class. Read books that aren’t assigned by your teachers. There is plenty of time to decide “what you want to be when you grow up” and middle school is one of the best times to start experimenting with different ideas, choices, and opportunities. If you do it now, you can build a habit of trying new things (even things that make you nervous or scared) that will serve you incredibly well as you get older.
Thank you, Joey! I loved your answers.
More information Joey’s programs, and booking him for your next event, can be found HERE.
Our guest blogger Connor Joyce is a rising 7th grader from Huntersville, North Carolina. With a keen interest in learning more about the professional speaking industry, he produced an 8-Part Summer Speaker Series for www.MichelleJoyce.com. He is the firstborn child of Founder and President, Michelle Joyce. When he’s not interviewing speakers, he enjoys football, Fortnite, and watersports.