Interview: Turning Your Passion Into A Business
Date: August 19, 2016
We had the pleasure to speak with Paul Adamson – a speaker and trainer who helps companies to achieve greater performance from employees, increased sales and increased energy levels within a team.
His interesting background led him to public speaking and today, he shares his top tips for beginning a career and inspiring an audience.
1. Hi Paul, how did your speaking career begin?
A friend of mine, Pat Rigney, asked me to speak to his sales team during their monthly meeting. He said talk about lessons you have learned from 22 years of professional sailing and I agreed!
During the lesson, I spoke about a massive storm I had to deal with whilst sailing an ocean. As I was explaining we were right on the edge, I stopped and looked around the room.
“Hold on a second!” I said.
They all looked at me in anticipation.
“I’ve just realised something: the storm I went through then is no different to the storm we are all going through right now in the world’s financial markets!
We can’t control the weather, we can only control the course of our yacht. The yacht is your company, and the weather is how we show up as a team and adjust our strategy accordingly”.
It blew the room away!
After that moment, Pat invited me to write and deliver a unique training programme for the sales team, with a strong element of personal development in it.
I delivered this with great success and the team got incredible results – even with the tough economic environment in Ireland during that time.
Afterwards, I was invited to run the same program all over Ireland for companies to support and up skills in their teams.
As they say, the rest is history.
2. Can you tell us a little about your professional background?
I spent 22 years professionally skippering yachts all over the world. This lead to teams through all kinds of weather – from flat calms to raging storms!
I met the love of my life, Audrey, in the Caribbean in 2006 and this brought me to Ireland.
I suddenly found myself standing in Dublin asking myself “What on earth am I going to do here?” There was no proper yacht training centre around at that time.
So I set up a company called Sailing West.
Learning business was purely through trial and error. It grew quickly and was a massive success in providing courses for sailing a yacht. It even invited people looking for a career change to embark on a life on the ocean wave as a yacht skipper.
This business really changed lives and was so much to run! It was actually during this time that Pat gave me my first speaking opportunity.
That brought about me setting up in speaking, so I then had two efficacious businesses.
Everything was going well and I then got a call which would change my life.
“Eddie Jordan. Really?” I asked, needing reassurance that he could know me.
“Yes the F1 Team Boss. BBC F1 Presenter & Top Gear presenter!”
Eddie had head-hunted Audrey and me to manage the build of his £6m super sailing yacht and then captain her around the world for him!
We sailed five oceans, visited some of the most remote islands on our planet and met some incredible people.
Can you imagine the stories, content and lessons we learned all the way? They’re awesome and this is what I deliver to audiences; they love it.
3. How do you help audiences to increase sales?
By teaching really simple strategies to create a human connection. This way, audiences can really focus on how to serve their client, as opposed to just winning business from them.
4. What makes you unique compared to other business trainers?
I don’t have a traditional business background. Instead, I have 22 years professionally sailing around the world, and most recently sailing around the world with Eddie Jordan!
All my presentations are laced with inspirational stories about business, success and life, with real simple lessons learned from the world’s top business leaders.
As a result, audiences engage with me on a deep level, listen and take action on the lessons and strategies I teach them.
5. What do you think some of the mistakes are in the workplace regarding leadership?
The biggest mistake is leaders thinking leadership can be learned out of a book!
Whilst books teach you techniques, they rarely have lasting impact. True leadership is your team following you, even when you’re not there. There are very few leaders in the world that ever achieve this depth of leadership.
6. How do you combat nerves when you’re presenting?
I don’t really get nervous. Any nerves I experience I just put down to me caring about the amount of value I bring to the client/audience.
When I am speaking, my focus is not on me or what I am saying, it is on my audience, delivering to them in the moment and being fully present so I can deliver truly powerful content.
7. If you could give three pieces of advice to an aspiring speaker, what would they be?
- Be your authentic self: It’s easy to compare yourself to another speaker, but the most powerful speaker is you.
- Believe in yourself: If you truly believe in your ability, you won’t get nervous. You will arrive in the moment and deliver extraordinary value!
- Define your message: You must know what your message is! Once you define this with total clarity, you can deliver laser-sharp content to your audience.
8. If your audience takes only one thing away from your presentation, what would it be?
My mantra: One life. Live it.
9. What do you love about public speaking?
It is what I was born to do. I am completely at home on the stage and just love delivering an inspirational presentation to an audience.
My favourite thing is seeing the passion in people’s eyes and their mindset change in the moment to, “I CAN!”
10. How do you stay motivated during bad times?
I always focus on what’s great – even when life can be tough and challenging. I really believe that life happens for us, not to us. There is always a lesson to be learned, so I guide my mind to keep looking until I find it!
Some of the greatest lessons I teach on stage have come from the toughest times in my life.
It’s so refreshing to appreciate how much Paul loves speaking. Just from reading his answers, you can feel his passion – and that is something you can’t learn or teach.
You can watch him in action with his latest presentation at TED Talks.