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Category Archives: Personal

July CHANGES Update

Filed under Family, Personal

Here’s my update of progress for the various CHANGES in my life I’m trying to create.  You can read more about the original concept in the post, “Introducing Small Changes To Your Life,” and also updates from February, March, April, May, and June.

  • Develop A Workout Routine/System (and stick to it!) – I started off the beginning of June and got back into the habit of running a few times a week but then lost interest midway through the month.  I’m not enjoying running as much as I’d like to, so maybe I need to find a different exercise to do.  Suggestions? (Grade: C-)
  • Take A Road Trip With The Family – In June, we took field trips to Chicago and Dallas and had a blast!  The girls were actually incredible travelers considering the length of the drives.  It’s always fun when the girls can come along and see what Daddy does! (Grade: A)
  • Finish Learning The Rubik’s Cube – I took the cube with me on a trip but haven’t really even messed with it.  I’ve got about half of it down but still have a few more steps to learn.  (Grade: F)


  • Read 3 Books – I generally read a decent amount, but haven’t been as much lately.  I’ve got some catching up to do, so hopefully we can get that done this month. 
  • Go Camping With Sydnee – Now I’m not an outdoorsmen by any stretch of the imagination, but I’d like to go camping with my daughter.  Now when I say “camping” I don’t mean some trip deep into the woods.  There are bugs out there.  And it’s scary at night.  Our camping trip will probably either be in the backyard or in the basement, but we will sleep in a tent to make it official.  And there will perhaps be fire (haven’t thought that through yet). 
  • Go To The Pool More With My Family – I have a difficult time relaxing so going to lay by the pool for a few hours gets really boring to me really quickly.  But my daughters have really enjoyed going to the pool and splashing around, so while my schedule is slow this summer, I want to spend more time with them doing what they love doing. 


31 Tips For New Speakers

Filed under Personal, Speaking

(If you haven’t had the chance to read How I Become A Speaker Part 1 & Part 2, check it out.  It will give you some background on how I got into this business.)

While I am certainly no expert on speaking, I have learned a lot about this business and am happy to share any knowledge I’ve got.  Here are a few things I’ve learned…

  1. What’s Your Motivation? – Too many people are in this for the wrong reasons and will just end up burning out.
  2. Pick Your Audience – You can’t speak to any audience, anywhere and be good.  Be focused.
  3. Be An Expert – Don’t be a jack of all trades and a master of none.  Pick one or two subjects you really know and are passionate about.
  4. Why Are You Different? – If someone was at a conference and heard 10 different speakers, why would they remember you?
  5. Make Your Marketing Materials Sexy – You only have one shot to make a first impression.  Don’t blow it.
  6. Be You – Learn from other speakers but don’t try to copy what they do.  Be you.
  7. Tell Stories (Your Stories) - Don’t tell 3rd person stories.  Tell your stories that connect you to your audience.
  8. Use Humor – If you’re not a comedian, then don’t try to be one.  But a few funny stories or funny one-liners will help the audience let their guard down.
  9. Outwork Others – Be disciplined to stay at it and work hard.  People won’t line up to book you.  You have to work hard to find them.
  10. Have A Long-Term Mentality – Go after long term relationships and not one-time “gigs”.
  11. Avoid Powerpoint – Too dated and not every place you will speak at has the capability to use Powerpoint.
  12. Meet Other Speakers – Contact the speakers who are in a similar industry and build a relationship with them.  You’ll be surprised how friendly and helpful most speakers are.
  13. This Is A Business – It’s not a hobby.  Run it like a business.
  14. Keep A Paper Trail – Peoples’ memories get fuzzy when it comes to details such as money.  If you didn’t get it in writing, it didn’t happen.
  15. Manage The Money – Avoid debt.  Pay cash.  Build it slow.  Keep your business finances separate from your personal finances.
  16. Hire Smart People - I’m not a good graphic designer or web guy, but I’ve got people who can do that stuff.
  17. Have A Video – It doesn’t have to be perfect, but people want to see if you can at least speak. The audio and lighting for my first demo video were horrible, but it at least gave people a feel for how I communicate.
  18. Ask For Referrals – If the host liked you, they probably know someone else who would like what you do.
  19. Get Recommendations – Gives you credibility and gives others confidence in scheduling you.
  20. Understand Why Someone Booked You – Usually hosts will book you because (A) they’ve heard you OR (B) someone recommended you.
  21. Have A Consistent Brand – Have the same look and feel to all your stuff.  Don’t use 47 different colors and fonts.
  22. Be Better Off Stage Than On – If you’re an incredible speaker but a jerk to be around, people will stop booking you.
  23. Give Away Stuff – People like free stuff.  I give away postcards at events.  Costs me next to nothing.
  24. Write A Book – When you write a book, you’re the expert.  And it’s also a good source of revenue.
  25. Have An Incredible Website – It doesn’t need to be flashy, but people will make assumptions about you as a speaker based on your website.
  26. Get The Word Out – If you have the best looking website on the block, but no one knows about it, who cares?
  27. Say Things People Will Remember – Have a couple of lines you repeat throughout your talk that people can grab onto and will stick in their minds when they leave.
  28. Practice and Rehearse – Before every presentation, I still practice in my room just like I’d do it on stage.
  29. Invite Others – If people will book you because they’ve seen you, who can you invite to your next event?
  30. Write Thank You Cards – I always give the host a hand-written thank you card at the event.  They didn’t have to book you, you know.
  31. Wait On Bureaus – A speaker’s bureau won’t get you business if you’re not already booking stuff on your own.

That’s all I can think of at this moment, but I know there are plenty of other tips out there.

If you’re a speaker, what tips can you offer?  If you want to become a speaker, what questions do you have?


How Did You Get Into Speaking? (Part 2)

Filed under Personal, Speaking

Read Part 1 of the story here…How Did You Get Into Speaking? (Part 1)

I still liked the thought of being a speaker to students, but wasn’t sure how to make it happen.  I started working part-time with an organization called Making it Count, which allowed me the opportunity to do school assemblies for them.  I traveled around and did around 60-70 assemblies a year.  I met some great people and really found that I was passionate about speaking and connecting with students. 

So in the fall of 2007, I decided to make a run at it.  I pulled some money together and worked with some friends to build my website.  I ended up having to buy the domain from another Grant Baldwin who lived in DC!  After the website was up and running, I began doing a lot of email marketing.  I tried to figure out what events were bringing speakers in and who was in charge of these events.  I sent out a few emails and to my surprise, two events emailed me back and wanted to book me…HOLY CRAP! 

In addition to booking the occasional event on my own, I continued working with Making it Count and also started doing some contract work with National Seminars.  With the various pieces all contributing to the pie, I was actually making a full time living speaking.  I continued to do more marketing and the bookings continued to trickle in.  By the summer of 2008, I had booked enough stuff on my own that I was able to stop working with Making it Count and National Seminars and just do my own stuff. 

It’s been an up and down journey, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.  I’ve learned a lot about myself and have found something that I love to do. 

In the beginning, one way I learned about the business was from other speakers.  So if you’re someone who wants to become a speaker, feel free to shoot me an email anytime at  I’m happy to help! 


How Did You Get Into Speaking? (Part 1)

Filed under Personal, Speaking

If I had a dime for every time I was asked this question, I would be loaded!

The fact is I have a really sweet gig being able to travel and speak to students.  So many people I talk with tell me they’d love to do what I get to do.

But people always want to know how I got into this.  So in case you’re wondering, here’s the back story…

When I was in high school, I was really involved in my church youth group.  I had a great relationship with my youth pastor, who really had a significant impact on my life.  Partly because of his influence, I decided I wanted to be a youth pastor.  I felt like I was good at connecting with other students, and it seemed like a cool way to make a living…hang out with teenagers!

I went to college and after graduating, I took a youth pastor position at a local church.  I did that for about 18 months, but it was somewhat of a challenge for me.  There were a lot of things I enjoyed about what I did, but there were also a lot of parts to my job I didn’t enjoy.  I began trying to figure out if this was the right role for me and if I didn’t do this, what could I do?  One part of my job that I really enjoyed was speaking.  I spoke each week to the students but also spoke several times a year in the main weekend services.  The more I spoke, the more I enjoyed it, and surprisingly enough, the audience seemed to like it as well.

The idea of becoming a speaker never really crossed my mind though.  It seemed like a cool idea, but I wasn’t sure you could make a living at it.  I thought if you could make it work, you’d have to be gone all the time, which with a young family, that much travel didn’t appeal to me.

After I left my youth pastor position, I spent a solid year trying to figure out what to do next.  I went to school for 4 years to become a youth pastor and then when I was one, it wasn’t what I thought it would be.  So now what?

Part 2 Tomorrow


June CHANGES Update

Filed under Personal

Here’s my update of progress for the various CHANGES in my life I’m trying to create.  You can read more about the original concept in the post, “Introducing Small Changes To Your Life,” and also updates from February, March, April, and May.


  • Complete A Puzzle – I went to Wal-Mart and picked up a 765 piece puzzle of the Las Vegas skyline, and I actually completed it in about a week or so.  I think I became obsessed with it and ended up working on it for hours after everyone went to bed.  But nonetheless, I completed it!  I think I’ll get another one soon, because it was actually kind of fun!  (Grade: A)
  • Cook A Fancy 3 Course Meal For My Wife – I pulled this off for Mother’s Day.  I sent the Mrs away for a few hours of “mommy time” and then I prepared some delicious goodness.  I had a shrimp appetizer, home-made Caesar salad, steak, potatoes, corn, and then the grand finale was strawberry cheesecake made from scratch.  That was a chore, but it was fun.  (Grade: A)
  • Build A Fence – This was a pain in the rear, but we completed it!  Between my brother-in-law and my dad, it was a multi-week process but glad to have it finished.  In addition, we built a garden and have planted some strawberries, peppers, tomatoes, and cilantro.  I’m very domesticated!  (Grade: A+)


  • Develop A Workout Routine/System (and stick to it!) – I started off at the beginning of the year and was running pretty consistently.  But my knees started bothering me, so I ended up just stopping for a while.  I noticed I had a lot more energy and felt better when I was running, so I need to get back into that.
  • Take A Road Trip With The Family – We actually have a couple of road trips happening this month.  Next weekend, I’m speaking at an event in Illinois, so the girls are tagging along and we’re going to Chicago for a few days.  Then the following week, they are coming with me to Dallas for an event I’m speaking at.
  • Finish Learning The Rubik’s Cube – I’ve learned the first 5 steps, but just never learned how to wrap it up.  I’m almost there!  Need to finish this…

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Take Time For “Nothing” This Weekend

Filed under Family, Personal, Time Management/Organization

I spoke last weekend at North Point and talked about the importance of “Pausing” in life. 

For most people, you have a 3-day holiday weekend coming up, and it’s a great opportunity to pause in life.  Memorial Day weekend is kind of the natural transition time into the summer, which I’m sure we’re all excited about. 

We talked about the idea of scheduling times of “nothing” into your life.  Schedule your personal time like you would any other appointment on your calendar.  And then guard it religiously. 

Take time to do something fun this weekend.  Go for a walk.  Fly a kite.  Come admire the fence I built. 

We all live busy, hectic lives, so we need time to recharge the batteries.  This is the perfect weekend to do that. 

Get your work done by Friday.  It’ll still be there on Tuesday when you come back.  Pause and enjoy the weekend. 


Lessons Learned Building A Fence

Filed under Personal, Thinking Out Loud...

Yesterday was a long and tiring day building a fence in our backyard. 

Thankfully there is already a fence on each side of us, so we just had to work on the back and connecting the sides back to the house.  We got about 80% of it done yesterday after screwing in tons of pickets and boards. 

As I woke up this morning and felt the soreness of my body, I was reminded how thankful I am not to have to do manual labor for a living.  That’s exhausting work. 

But there were some lessons I was reminded of throughout the process…   

  • Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Doing Right - We’ve all seen fences and home improvement projects that look like they were completed by a class of first-graders.  If you’re going to do something in life, and it’s worth your effort and energy, do it right.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, but give it your best and make it quality. 
  • Measure Twice, Cut Once – This is an old construction adage, but it applies to many things in life.  Count the cost of anything before venturing out.  Because once you start, it’s a lot tougher to turn around or change course. 
  • A Sense Of Accomplishment Is A Great Feeling – When we finished the 80 feet across the back, I gotta say I was pretty proud of it.  What was the last thing you created, produced, or made that brought that sense of accomplishment to your life?
  • Surround Yourself With People Smarter Than You – If you know me, you know I’m not a handy-man in any way.  Thankfully my dad and brother-in-law are.  If you can’t do something quality yourself, find people who can and ask for help. 

If you want to come see the fence, we’ll be giving tours throughout the week.  It should be one of the great wonders of world. 


8 Ways To Show Appreciation To Your Mom On Mother’s Day

Filed under Family, Personal

Just FYI…Mother’s Day is Sunday, and since most of us came from mother’s, we should probably find the one that claims us and show a little appreciation.  She did push you out into the world you know?  And your head was the size of a cantaloupe, so that couldn’t have been pleasant.
So in case you haven’t picked up a cheesy card, a new bathrobe, or made a Macaroni necklace to show mom what she means to you, let me offer some ideas…

1. Write a song.  Bonus points if you include the phrase “Remember the time when…” followed by a story about one time you got in a ridiculous amount of trouble and she threatened your life.  Hopefully the awesomeness of the song will take away the sting of your stupidity.

2. Paint a picture.  With finger paint.  On the wall. 

3. Hug her.  It must be at a completely random time when she’s not expecting it.  Try to create some tears for this moment and between the sniffles whisper, “I love you mommy.  Can I have $20?”

4. Make a card.  Hallmark is overrated.  A handmade card with glitter and sequins that smells like cologne from her 17 year-old son is something she’ll treasure.

5. Cook her a meal.  It’s got to be more than a bowl of Fruity Pebbles with a glass of chocolate milk. 

6. Rub her feet.  Point out mystery green fungus.  Capture her reaction on video.  Post to YouTube. 

7. Act out a play.  Get some friends together and recreate your birth into the world.  Especially moving if you can be covered in greasy Crisco when you emerge. 

8. Tell her you love her.  She’ll wonder one of a few things: 1) what did you break?  2) did you sell one of your siblings? 3) how much money do you need? or 4) did you drink too much Red Bull? 

What other creative ideas do you have to show mom your loving affection?



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May CHANGES Update

Filed under Personal, Thinking Out Loud...

Here’s my update of progress for the various CHANGES in my life I’m trying to create.  You can read more about the original concept in the post, “Introducing Small Changes To Your Life,” and also updates from February, March, and April.

CHANGES for April:

  • Get My Passport – Got it!  Well, I technically haven’t got the passport back yet, but I’ve submitted all the paperwork and done everything I need to do.  Now, apparently it is a 16 year wait to get it back.  The efficiency of our government never ceases to amaze me.  (Grade: A)
  • Learn To Solve A Rubik’s Cube – I’ve made some progress here.  I bought a cube and have spent a few hours in hotel rooms memorizing how to solve it.  As of today, I can solve one full side and 2/3 of four of the other sides.  It’s just finishing those four sides and the top side that is taking some time.  I have solved it following the instructions (which is much more difficult than it sounds!).  I’m getting close though.  (Grade: B)

CHANGES for May:

  • Complete A Puzzle – Originally I was thinking a 1,000 piece puzzle, but that might take too long.  I actually did a 300 piece puzzle with my daughter a few weeks ago, and it was a lot of fun.  I found a 700 piece puzzle sitting in a closet, so that will be the task for this month.
  • Cook A Fancy 3 Course Meal For My Wife – I think deep down we all wish we could cook, so this is my attempt at learning more about it.  And fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you look at it), my wife gets to be my guinea pig.
  • Build A Fence – I am by no means a handy man, but we need a fence and the prices for most fence companies are too outrageous for me.  I’ve got some people willing to help, so I’m going to take them up on it and build a fence.


What Do You Say To Someone Who Is Dying?

Filed under Family, Personal, Thinking Out Loud...

This morning I’m driving up to a nursing home to visit my grandmother. 

Unfortunately, she’s been a lifetime smoker and has never really been in the best of health.  She recently found out she has lung cancer which is quickly spreading throughout her body.  I’ve been keeping updated on the situation from my dad and family members and it sounds like she may have just weeks left in her life.  She has even expressed that she’s ready to die and when someone her age with her health mentally checks out and gives up on the situation, it’s just a matter of time. 

I’ve never been extremely close to her, but she is nonetheless my grandmother.  It’s sad to see her in this condition and giving up on hope. 

So this morning when I go visit her, it may be the last time I see her alive.  It’s a sobering thought, and I promise you I’m trying not to depress your Friday!  But I guess this question has been running through my mind…

What do you say to someone who is dying? 

So often death is a sudden and unexpected event (a car wreck, heart attack, etc) but when you have the opportunity to say that final goodbye, what do you say? 

Here’s what I’m going to try and do…

Share memories.  Tell stories.  Laugh.  Look at the positive.  Get our minds off the fact that this may be the last time we talk. 

I don’t know that there’s a good answer to this question.  You always want to say just the right thing at just the right moment…hopefully that will be the case today. 

YOUR TURN: What would you say to someone who is dying? 

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    Grant Baldwin is a relevant leader and an engaging communicator who is making a significant impact in the lives of students across the country.

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