Getting speaking gigs with Joel Hawbaker

Ever wanted to be a professional speaker?

Joel Hawbaker is a Real Life Leader (and can be found at He is an award-winning high school teacher and soccer coach in Alabama.

Joel balances his family life and teaching with a side-business as a speaker. In this interview, Joel shares his wisdom on a number of topics.

  • His salary getting slashed 40%
  • How to use your teaching skills in business
  • How to get your first speaking gig
  • Putting together a showreel for speaking arrangements
  • Working for free
  • A book writing hack which he uses

Links mentioned in the show

Real Life Leading

Joel’s LinkedIn Profile

Read the full transcript

Note, 100% accuracy is not guaranteed with transcripts, but gee we try.

Yeah, this is this is my 13th year being a classroom teacher. And in those 13 years, I have taught every grade five through 12 at different times. So I’m not sure how that translates in different parts of the world terribly well, but I know like the ages basically age 10 up through 18, so late elementary school through through high school. And then I’ve also done private tutoring for college kids. And so I in the same like, during that time, I’ve also taught pretty much every subject that is taught in American high schools in terms of course, stuff I’ve taught English science, math, p Bible study skills, and I’ve taught a couple of different types of each of those. But most of my teaching has been in history, that’s what my degree is in. So that’s most of what I’ve taught. I’ve taught tiny schools, like where I’ve taught classes of five kids, I’ve taught in a public school where I had a classes of almost 35 kids can have taught, you know, I’ve taught Christian school, I’ve taught Muslim school.

So I’ve taught a huge variety of, I don’t know, a wide variety of settings. And, and that’s been a lot of fun, because each one comes with its own set of strengths or weaknesses, or challenges compared to high points, that kind of stuff. They’re just they’re very different environments. But I’ve enjoyed all of them for different reasons.

Yeah, I bet. And like you said, every type of position you get into school brings its own challenges and brings its own set of problems that you need to solve. Yeah, how did you get to actually just go on the focus of that? What’s the benefit Do you think like, especially because you’re running real life leading calm and you’re going out there and talking? How does that impact your how does that impact your business having like, just getting used to solving those new problems?

What’s really interesting, I find that a lot of the stories I share when I do speeches and presentations of like you mentioned, a lot of them are from the classroom, because that’s where a huge chunk of my life takes place. What I’ve found since I’ve started doing real life leading since I’ve started doing the speaking and stuff is that a lot of the things that I learned or experience at different venues, I also bring back to my classroom. So I had I had a scheduled presentation last night at a local university. But because we had an unseasonably cold evening, the group ended up not having their regularly scheduled meeting, like two thirds of the members that normally would show up, just were not able to make it. And so instead of doing my regular presentation, we just sat around and talked, there were like, six of us there. And so we just sat around and talked, and I had a great time getting to know some of these college kids. And so I came into class this morning, and one of my students said, Well, how the presentation go last night. And I said, Well, it didn’t. But I still had a really good time. And so I got to tell them some of the things that I learned from these college kids last night. And so it’s been really fun. Because it it it allows me to share a little bit more of my outside the classroom world with my students. And I feel like generally speaking, that’s, excuse me, that’s always a good thing for relationship building is for them to, to understand a little bit more about me than just, this is our teacher, here’s the subject material. Okay, let’s get to it. You know, I mean, every educator knows when you can make an actual human connection with with your students, they’re more likely to pay attention when you get into the actual academic stuff. And so I found that that’s been a really good benefit of doing the speaking it’s actually helped me make better connections with some of my high school kids as well. So that’s been good.

Yeah. 100%. And it also gives, you know, it has scope to give what you’re teaching in the classroom, that kind of real world real world backing Well, I’ve found as well when I was always be showing students of mine little tips and tricks that I’ve learned along my way in business, and it kind of it kind of gets rid of that, you know, when are we ever going to use this top? Yes. station?

Yes. Yeah. And that’s, that’s the I typically address that specific question the very first day of each new semester with whenever I get a new class of students, the very first question kids have, especially in the age of smartphones and Wikipedia, the first question kids have is, why do I have to learn this stuff about a bunch of dead people and wars that I don’t care about? This is never going to affect me. No one’s ever going to ask me on a job application, like who became king of England following the English Civil War and the restoraiod? You know what I mean? Nobody cares. So why do we have to learn this stuff? And I learned very quickly in my teaching career that if I didn’t have a good answer to that question, I was going to lose them the very first day. And so you’re exactly right. Anytime we can make those real world connections with what we’re teaching academically to what they’re going to experience extracurricular Lee, if that’s a word, that’s, that’s something that really makes a good a good bridge for them. And it gives them something to to latch on to.

Yeah, I completely great. And it’s, it is just that little bit and it’s like you said, it gets gives the students that insight to you. And like you said, once you make that human connection, and it does, that’s not just in the classroom. That’s life. In general, when you make that human connection, you start to get your message across more and absolutely, people empathize with you, and you empathize with them. And it wreck it just makes the world run better.

Yeah, yeah, completely agree. Completely agree. And, and that’s been something I’ve really enjoyed. Because this year, the school I teach at now is called Westbrook Christian school. And it’s a smaller school in a small town in Alabama. But it’s close to a couple of larger cities. But a lot of the kids I teach come from a middle class to lower middle class backgrounds. Some come from a lot of money, but most of them don’t. And so it’s been helpful for me to be able to connect with them by simply sharing parts of my life that don’t have anything to do with the classroom. So I tell stories about my wife and my kids. And our two dogs. And I tell stories about the different places I’ve been able to travel. And, you know, and that’s because a lot of what I teach is world history. And I tell the kids, the fun part about teaching World History is literally anything that’s ever happened. That’s fair game to talk about this world. It’s world history. So sometimes we’ll talk about college basketball. And sometimes we’ll talk about stuff we see in the news. And sometimes we’ll talk about events that happened 400 years ago, in a place in the world that most of them couldn’t find without a map, you know, and then we’ll try to solve that problem and help them figure out how to find it on a map.

But it’s just a lot of fun to be able to bring in bits of information that aren’t in their textbook, but that are interesting and engaging for the students. I find. That’s one of the more fun parts of what I get to do.

Yeah, I love it. And I want to rewind a little bit because we mentioned your business and you’re speaking earlier and real life living calm. How did we How did you make that decision to sort of to step out and start speaking and tell us all a little bit more about what you do on the side?

Yeah, certainly. So what I started doing a close I guess over a year ago, between a year year and a half ago is I was talking with my wife. And this sounds really mercenary. I don’t mean it to. But honestly, part of the reason I got into it was because I was looking for a way to use the skills that I have to make additional money on top of my teaching salary. I mentioned it to small Christian school. And so my salary is about 60% of what it would be if I taught in the public school. And that’s a that’s a choice that we’ve made consciously. Because I love where I teach, I love the administration and the students and the school I love everything about it, except for the paycheck and so we just accepted Okay, good, we’ll then we’ll accept lower pay will just need to do things in addition to that. So for about a year, what I had done is I had taught online English classes to Russian students. So I would get up at 445 in the morning, and I would sit down at my computer. And from 5am to 6am, Monday through Friday, I would teach an English lesson to different Russian students, because there’s about an eight hour time difference between Alabama and Moscow.

And I’d like I said, I did that for almost a year. And so I teach from five to six in the morning, I get ready for school, I’d leave at 645. And then in the afternoons, I would coach soccer practice, or coach a soccer game, and then drive home and then get up and do it again the next day, and I did it most weekend days as well. And after about a year of doing that, I told my wife, I said, I’m just burning out, I need to do something else. And I thought, Okay, well, what other skills do I have, I thought, you know, what, I, I feel pretty comfortable about being a storyteller. I know that I can engage people when I when I talk about things that I’m passionate about. Because there’s There are not many tougher audiences in the world than a bunch of jaded dis interested 14 and 15 year old kids

don’t agree more,

you know, and high school teachers know that. So I figure if I can keep kids interested for about 90 minutes at a time on a regular basis, then I can probably do even better with audiences who want to be in the audience.

And so we started looking into some public speaking things. I took an online course with a guy named grant Baldwin who runs a website called the speaker lab calm and he is amazing, learned a lot from him. And in doing that really started kind of honing my message and zeroing in on specific audience is that I felt like I connected really well with and some of that is high school and college kids. Some of that is religious organizations. I’m a, an outspoken Christian. And so a lot of the groups that I speak to our at churches are Christian high schools, that sort of thing.

So it I talked about leadership, let’s talk about spiritual things. And then also talk about blended family life, because I’m divorced and remarried. And so actually, in December, right for Christmas. This year, I’ll be in Orlando, Florida speaking at a big parenting conference down there about what it’s like to parent when you have for parents and two houses that share some of the same children. And because, again, just it’s become coming so common in 21st century society, people need help figuring out how to do that well. And because I did that poorly, for a few years, I learned a lot of what not to do that I like to share with people.

So that’s kind of how I got into it. A few months after starting speaking, I also decided that one of the ways to get my message to even more people was to write a book. And so I sat down and wrote a book about gospel centered leadership. And you mentioned my website, the real life leading. com, you can find that on there. And that that was, that was a really interesting journey to do as well, I found that writing a book is not at all the same thing as writing an essay for a college class. It’s, it’s a very different type of writing. And it took, it took a lot more time, it took a lot more editing than I expected it to, but was really happy with, with what we were able to get put together. And I’ve been really pleased with how the book has done in terms of making an impact on the people that have read it.

So that’s kind of some background into what I do, and why I do it.

Yeah, I love it. And what I like, what I really resonate with, and what I know a lot of other people are going to resonate with, as well as not particularly wanting to leave teaching about trying to find a way to use your skills to help subsidize your salary and help bring in some more income because it’s, it’s an easily achievable thing. Once you’re sort of in that process. And you said, you a trying to use your skills and reuse your skills for something else. How did you conclude? So did you just decide that speaking, and being a storyteller, like you mentioned, is something you enjoy, and something you’re good at? Was there more of a process was this the first thing you kind of stepped into business wise,

this is kind of the first thing Yeah, and it’s been interesting because the, the focus of what I speak about has taken longer to zero in on than I expected, did it too, just because there’s so many things I’m passionate about that I really love. But just because I’m passionate about it does not mean that there are people willing to pay me to talk about whatever that thing is,

you know, because there are plenty of things that I love that people just, they’re not going to be interested in hearing me specifically talk about. And so,

but yeah, I, I looked around my legs. And my wife and I talked about it, I looked at a few different options. I looked at teaching other online courses, or I looked at going back to school and getting a master’s degree. So I could teach college courses on the side or things like that. And I still like those ideas. But I think that it would have taken much more time with a lot less income potential. Because again, even with college teaching, there’s a very low ceiling of how much extra income I can earn. Whereas with, with public speaking, the income potential is going to be a lot greater based on who I speak to, and how often I speak, but I have a lot more control over it, because it’s not controlled by an HR department at a university. It’s controlled by what value I can bring to whatever audience I’m speaking to.

And I like that idea. Now, to be fair, if you had asked me even two years ago, if I ever saw myself as an entrepreneur, I would have not only said no, I probably would have laughed and said, that’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. Because never in my in my life, that I think I’d like to own my own business. I know a lot of people that have thought that I just, I was never one of them, I was completely content to just get a paycheck, doing what I loved. But, you know, as my kids have gotten older, they’ve gotten more expensive. And as life continues to, to get more that way, I found that just my teaching income is not going to be enough to sustain a family of four so that, you know, my wife also works. And so that also just kind of motivated me to look around and say, Okay, well, what are your skills? And where can you use these skills to continue to do what you’re passionate about, which is to help people and to talk about subjects that I love? And so the obvious answer was, was public speaking, and I’ve done some of that in the past, I’ve never shied away from being in front of people, whether it was in, you know, speaking at my church youth group, when I was in high school, or speaking at high school, chapel services at Christian high schools, I’ve taught that I’ve always loved being in front of an audience. It’s always about, you know, I did drama in high school, I was, I was, I was in a few plays, I sang in the choir, I played sports. So I’m not, I’m not afraid of being in front of a crowd. I’m not afraid of being in front of an audience. It’s something that I actually really get a lot of energy from. And so it just seemed like a really good fit. And I’ve been really pleased with it. So far, I’ve had the had the opportunity to speak to some great audiences, and at some really cool venues. And, you know, it’s always enjoyable to do that and get positive and encouraging feedback.

Yeah, that’s brilliant. And I want to go back to you starting out your public speaking, because, sure. Well, as you mentioned, it’s a natural fit for a lot of teachers. Because, like you said, right, if we can convince, or we can engage a room full of, you know, 2515 year olds who would rather be almost literally anywhere else. That’s exactly right. And we can have them engage and it literally be there against their will imagine what we can do with a room of people who actually want to listen to us.

That’s right.

How many of you paid to be there? Yeah. Oh, my God, even more. Oh, my God,

how? How did you get your first your first speaking gig? How did that start? And you sort of say, like, how does how does that process start? Because I know a lot of teachers are probably hearing what you’re doing, and they’re saying, you know, I can I can do this, right. Yeah, I could do that. My skills

absolutely was it’s funny, because pretty much everything I learned about public speaking the business side, I learned from that program I mentioned earlier from grant Baldwin, his his program is called booked and paid to speak. And I don’t necessarily mean to sound like a commercial for it. But I have no problem if I do, because it was that helpful to me. Yeah,

went through kind of an online webinar and just loved everything that he had to say, because he knows it firsthand. That is, he was a high school youth pastor, who then basically worked his way into being a full time public speaker, making really good money. And now he’s turned around and created a course where people can learn to do exactly what he did. And it’s not a secret. It’s just a lot of hard work. And so learning that course, basically, the short, the short version is, the first thing you do is you look around at people, you know, who could give you opportunities to speak, who do you know, that knows you and trust you enough to put you in front of their audience, whether it’s five people or 50 people. And so one of the people that I that I knew is a guy that I teach with he, he’s another Bible teacher at the high school where I am, and he’s also a pastor. And so I just reached out to him and said, Hey, would you be okay, if I came and spoke at your churches, youth group on a Wednesday night? Sometimes he said, Man, we’d love to have you What about two weeks from now? And I said, awesome. Here’s my topic, what do you think about that, he said, that’d be great. We’d love to have you come out, will give you 30 to 45 minutes, I said, that would be perfect, thank you. And so I did, I went and I had one of my students who is in his youth group, fill me on an iPad and had a great time talking with them. And, you know, use some of that footage to make myself a demo reel that I put on my website, and that kind of thing. And that was kind of how I got started. And again, after that, it was just, it was a lot of reaching out to other people. So starting with local civic groups, like in America, we’ve got things like the Kiwanis Club, and the Rotary Club and the Key Club and the Lions Clubs. And, and these are basically

charitable civic organizations that meet on a regular basis, and bring in speakers to speak to them at lunchtime, or things like that. So it’s a great way to get a lot of free at bats in terms of refining your presentation, and that sort of thing. And again, it’s a lot of audiences who most for the most part really want to be there. And they want to hear what you have to say. But it’s also really helpful because those audiences are always looking for more, because most of them are going to be obviously they’re not paying you. But that means they have a lot of weekdays to fill in terms of getting speakers to come in. And so they, you know, very rarely Are you going to reach out to a civic group that’s going to say, No, you know, what, we’re booked up for the next six months, because most most of them are not, they’re always looking for people to come in and talk to them.

And so I was very blessed to have a lot of opportunities to do that. And it was actually at one of those events where I got my first paid speaking opportunity, because I spoke at a rotary club event that my, my mother in law was actually the secretary of this particular Rotary Club. And so she talked with the president, they had become an in speak, got some really great positive feedback. And then afterward, one of the ladies who is at the presentation came up to me and said, Hey, I have a group of college kids that needs to hear what you just had to say. And I said, awesome. When would you like me to come out? She said, Well, could you do it like a week from now? I know it short notice. I said, Yeah, I’d love to. And so that was my first paid speaking opportunity. It was because I went and did a free gig and Someone in the crowd happened to hear me and say, I have a group of people that needs to hear exactly what you had to say, you know, just kind of snowballed from there. So I reached out to conferences have reached out to conventions have reached out to church gatherings, and stuff like that. And sometimes I say, yes, and sometimes I say no, and sometimes they say, try us again next year. But it’s honestly, it’s, it’s a lot of work. But it’s really worth it. Because each time I get to go speak to people, I get to meet new audiences. And I get to try to impact them in a positive way. And that’s really what it’s all about. I mean, every teacher knows, that’s what you’re really, therefore, it’s not about the history class. It’s about reaching out and impacting kids.

Yeah, I love it. And I, I really enjoyed the fact that you were working with, you know, social groups and nonprofits at the start. Because I think that’s, it’s such an underutilized aspect of businesses, you can do that at the start. And like you said it right. If anything, it’s free at bats, it’s breaks, it’s some time to work on your craft. And that’s, you know, the personal side of it. And you can meet people from there. And, you know, usually a lot of people that help organize nonprofits are in business themselves. So there’s, there’s connections through that, but even on the other personal level, it’s you can be giving back almost instantly, and that’s brilliant. And for lucky said, you know, teaches just by nature. I want to be giving back, right?

Yeah, that’s why I’ve never met a teacher that went into it, because they wanted to get rich. Exactly. Yeah. If they did, they were not very smart.

That’s it. Yeah. That’s it, though, either. Yeah. They want to make a difference, or they want to get rich and forgot to carry the one. What’s one of the I think,

yeah, that’s exactly what it is a place the decimal point.

Yeah, that’s it. It Yeah. And like you said, there’s, then you don’t get contacted by a tree group. And we have things like that in Australia as well. And as line okay. Rotary Clubs. And okay, there are many other nonprofits that, you know, you’re not going to contact them, and they’re going to be like, Oh, sorry, we we’d love you to help us. You know, we’d love you to help afraid we’re actually booked out for the next six months. It’s probably not

your charity is not good for us.

Yeah, yes, exactly. Right. We’re free is too much for us. Sorry,

could you could you please pious to come in, right? No, I think I think that’s such a good tool. And, like you said, getting the free at bats. And I love what you did there with recording it and putting it as a demo reel. And because that’s something start sending out almost instantly, once it’s edited, right website. And right, it gives it that extra little bit of validation, I guess, as well, to say that you got on on tape.

Yeah, a little bit of social proof. And as I’ve one of the things that grant Baldwin says, and his program that I love is he says, you know, start with what you have and improve as you go. Because I don’t have 20 grand to drop on a professional video production. What we had is a borrowed iPad and I movie. And that’s what we use to make the first demo reel. And since then, I’ve done a whole bunch more presentations. And so my current demo reel is better than the first one. It’s still not as good as I’d like it to be. But the very first one, it literally was only footage from that first speech, because that’s all I had. Well, now, I’ve got Footage from 10 or 12 speeches that I can cut the best 10 seconds from and put together a really good demo reel. And that’s actually at the time of this recording today, started my Thanksgiving break from school. So I’m out all of next week, which I’m just thrilled about.

Just because, you know, teachers love breaks as much as the kids do, which is something that kids don’t understand. But teachers know what I’m talking about. And so one of my projects over Thanksgiving break is to actually put together another better demo reel, or hire somebody to take the footage that I have, and put it together better than I could by myself. Because Yeah, the better video that have the the better, it makes me look. And so if I’m going to be charging X amount of dollars for a presentation, my video needs to say, I am charging that amount. Because if if I say, you know, I’m just going to pick around number, I don’t actually charge this. But if I’m going to say I’m going to charge $5,000 for a speech, then my video better show I’m worth $5,000 for a presentation. If If I say I charge five grand, and you watch my video and go, Yeah, I don’t think so.

Then I’ve never, I’ve never going to get hired. You know, it’s just basic business principles, you’ve got to, you’ve got to show that what you’re selling is worth what you’re charging for it. Because if nobody’s willing to pay, then I’m not actually worth that.

So that’s one of those things that you know, you gotta you really have to pay attention to, especially in the digital age,

it’s not actually that hard to put together a decent looking video, because there’s so much free or inexpensive software out there, there’s so many freelancers who are willing to do that for a reasonable price, there’s no reason to not be able to have a pretty good video. And again, the one I’ve got up right now is okay, I’m not actually thrilled with it. But it’s better than than the previous one.

And I want to I want to put together and even better one because I want to be able to, to present myself better than I have in the past. So yeah, just you know, continuing to work more continuing to make it bigger, actually recently hired an agent who is helping me with booking different gigs and things like that, that’s been helpful to me,

mostly because he has a lot of connections that I don’t have. And so like one of the things I was able to do back in October was I spoke at a leadership retreat for high school kids at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Cool, it was it was awesome. And the kids were great, had a great time. The guy who went before me is a nationally known speaker. He’s got like, two different PhDs. And he’s a cancer survivor. And he is a retired Army guy. And he’s got such a cooler backstory that I have

like, and he was great on stage. And so as I’m watching him, I thought to myself two different things. My first thought is, I don’t want to follow this guy. He’s great. And my second thought is, no, I want to follow this guy, because he was great. And I’m gonna have to up my game if I don’t want to look like a total fool after how good that guy was. And so it really became a motivation to really come in and be passionate and be energetic and make sure that these kids realized that there wasn’t gonna be any drop off in town. Because obviously, they don’t know my background. They just know I’m the next speaker do up on stage. And they don’t know that. You know, when I introduced myself, it sounds a little underwhelming. Who are you? I’m Joel. I’m a high school teacher and a soccer coach.

Yeah, that’s not that’s not nearly as impressive. Just right off the bat. You know what I mean? That doesn’t mean my message isn’t good. But I don’t have a cool I climbed Mount Everest, or I survived cancer, or I swam the Atlantic Ocean or something, kind of a story like, you know, I haven’t won a national title in anything. My book didn’t become a best seller, or it didn’t become like a New York Times bestseller. It wasn’t a one on Amazon for a brief period of time. That was kind of cool. Yeah, but now it was in the free category. It just means a lot of people downloaded it for free. But I’ll take it

I’ll show


great to they had to had to choose to download it. So I can’t that I don’t know if anybody else does. But I do. But you know, it’s just, it was one of those things where when I heard him, I thought to myself, okay, this guy’s awesome. I need to be just as awesome not not to compete with him. But to show that I can actually bring that kind of value as well. And I ended up having a great time, got some really good feedback. And as soon as I got done, one of the gentleman in the crowd, he was one of the sponsors of the event. He came up to me, and he said, Hey, do you travel? And I said, I can. Why? And he said, Well, because we’re going to do another one of these events in Baton Rouge, Louisiana next summer, and we might like you to come down. Well, Baton Rouge is like 350 miles from where I live. And I said, Hey, I would love to talk with you more about it. Let’s see what we can put together. And again, the one of the things that grant says over and over is your best marketing tool is just crushing it when you’re on stage. Because if you do you never know who’s in the audience who might want to bring you in.

And that’s one that’s one thing that I found to be true. Yeah,

the best marketing you can do, especially in speaking, I’m guessing, as well as just doing your job really well. show up and

be easy to work with, don’t be a prima donna and then just do a great job. When you’re on stage, perform well, you know, provide them with value, give them give them what they hired you to do. And then some and you know, and that makes it very easy to then get referrals from from each opportunity that you get. So I’m really excited about that. I had a great time. And I’m looking forward to hopefully making a trip to Louisiana next summer.

That’s cool. And I love how you mentioned. So this is the start of your break today is Thanksgiving break, and yo you got a little project to update your real and work on that. And that’s something that as teachers we have that bit of a benefit of those extra couple of weeks a year focus on little projects when it comes to having a business and do you try and detroit news that break time to get particular projects done that are a bit more difficult during the school term.

Oh, absolutely. Um, yeah, it’s funny, I did that with my book last year. So the way that I wrote the book, I learned this from a guy named Chandler bolt, who does a program online called self publishing school. And he’s all about helping typically small entrepreneurs self publish books, because it basically becomes what he calls kind of a high end business card. If you’ve written a book on a topic, then you can be considered an expert to a certain degree. And so I thought, Okay, well, I, I know that I could write a book. Let’s try it. And I had a great time doing that. But the way that I actually wrote my book was I recorded it out loud. And because I don’t really do technology very much, what I did is I actually used an old miniature cassette recorder. And so what I did is, I would, I would map out a chapter and I would outline it on a three by five car and driving too, because I have a 45 minute commute each morning to school, and 45 minute commute home, and I would driving down the highway, I would record a chapter on this video, or on this miniature cassette recorder, and then come home. And then either my wife or I would sit down and type it up. And that became the rough draft. And then, like you mentioned, over the Christmas break, and over Thanksgiving break, and over spring break in the spring, that’s when I actually did the editing and the revisions, because that’s the only time I had time because during the regular school year, I’m grading papers, and I’m doing lesson plans. I’m doing all the things that teachers know you have to do that there’s just not time to get done during your school day. And so that was what I did with my my, again, my Thanksgiving break my Christmas break my spring break. I just did four or five hours a day of book editing. And then we published the book last summer, right, like two weeks after school got out, or something like that. And yeah, so every, every break that I get my wife laughs at me, because she knows when I like when I came home today. And I was home for maybe half an hour. And then I sat down and I wrote out a to do list for all week. Yeah, so I’ve got I’ve got three or four different big projects that I’m going to get done in the next eight or nine days while I’m out. And I’m sure a lot of teachers are that way as well. Because just like you said, when we we have the benefit of those extra days that a lot of people don’t get. And so we try to make them useful. We try to we try to cram in what we couldn’t get done during the regular school term. So yeah, I’m looking forward to getting some of that stuff done this week, as well.

Yeah, that’s brilliant. And it’s something that

I guess teaches a before you start, you know, your online business, but before you start a business, and before you start doing something on the side, as a teacher, usually those holidays can be, you know, very relaxing, and sometimes you can get things done around the house and whatever. But it’s really when you start having that business on the side is when you can start to utilize it. And it just I I find that I because I still teach and it’s funny you say that you’re a high school teacher and a soccer coach, because that’s also that would be my description as well as

and I get back from the holidays and you’ll absolutely if you’re incredibly busy in your flat out because you’ve just been working on your side project, you know, date straight, but you know, re energized when you get back.

Yeah, yeah, it is. It’s a different kind of relaxation, because the the challenge is that like one of my projects over the break is also do my preseason soccer planning. Because in Alabama, where I live soccer in the high schools is a spring sport. So we start our official preseason the day we come back after Christmas break. So we have two or three weeks of preseason, just fitness work. And then we get two or three weeks of preseason work with a ball. And then the games kick off in mid February. So we have five or six weeks of prep. And so part of my job over Thanksgiving, and is to plan my preseason, and then over Christmas, I will refine my preseason plans. And then during the spring, man, it’s just you know, I mean, you know how busy it is that during during the season. It’s just busy all the time. And the other part of it is because I’m divorced and remarried, the high school where I teach is not the high school where my daughter goes, because my older daughter is a freshman, she goes to a different high school, she plays varsity soccer for her high school. So on any night, when I’m not coaching again, she probably has a game that I’m going to watch. And so it’s just busy from from January through the middle of May when the playoffs and it’s just busy. And that’s okay. It’s a really, you know, it’s all things that I love doing. So it’s a fun, busy, but like you mentioned that you’re you’re re energized after those breaks, because it’s a different kind of challenge. Sitting down and working on my speaker video is a very different challenge than grading 55 High School freshman essays on a test.

Yeah. And so it just is it’s different kind of work. And it’s it’s energizing kind of work in a lot of ways.

Yeah. And I found as well,

you might, you might agree with this. And it’s one of those things where when I was taking on the soccer and I was like, Oh, it’s you know, just another thing, right. But then you kind of departmental eyes, everything because there’s nothing that can take more time than, you know, teaching and running a business because they’re two things the way you’re acting, you know, you’re never done. You could you could work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you would still find

Yep, and it’s just utilizing your time better, I think. And it’s just folk being able to focus on the most important things and using your brakes when you’ve got them. And just, it’s good to have a couple of nights awake, whether it’s the soccer or another hobby that you have is just something where you’re not focusing on your business or your teaching. Because you can be you could be focusing on every waking hour if you if you let yourself or if you don’t stop yourself, I should say,

Yeah, I hundred percent agree. That’s one of the things that I’ve enjoyed actually, about

doing this, you know, doing the speaking. And the writing on the side is it’s helped me refocus in terms of my time, because, you know, we all have the same amount of time every day, we all have 24 hours a day, the question is how we utilize it. And I had gotten into a habit A few years ago, of spending a lot of my free time watching soccer. Well, that’s not necessarily bad. And I had the professional excuse of, well, I’m watching the game to learn. And the truth is, I was really just watching the game because it’s entertaining. And I love the game.

And so what I realized when I was going to start speaking and writing is I cannot spend as much of my time just doing soccer stuff, because I wouldn’t just watch the game. My wife used to laugh at me, because what I do is I would read a preview about an upcoming game and then I’d watch the game and then I would read all the postgame reports about the same game I just want to show you know, and and it’s one of those things where I enjoy doing that. But most of the time, it wasn’t actually any kind of professional development. It was just I like watching certain soccer teams play. And so that’s what I did. And so what I had to do about a year and a half ago was really re prioritize and say, Okay, if I’m going to write a book, there are not enough hours in a day for me to spend four hours watching and reading about the soccer game and get any kind of book work done. So I have to give up something in order to make this project work. So for any of your in your anybody in your audience who is working on something on the side and they feel like there’s just not time for it. So my question to them would be okay, so what can you give up at least temporarily for for for the sake of a long term gain, because it’s not like I never watched soccer again. But over my spring break over my Christmas break. Normally, when I would watch two soccer games a day I didn’t watch any because I was editing a book because I knew that long term editing this book is going to be better for me for my business and for my family than watching another Manchester United Soccer replay or another Dc United Soccer replay or another us men’s national team replay. You know what I mean?

And so that’s one of the things that really has been helpful to me is just learning time management. I mean, you know, every teacher knows, one of the biggest things you learn in college is not just the material, it’s learning how to budget your time when mom and dad aren’t there to make you do your homework. Yeah. And as an adult, sometimes it’s easy to forget those lessons. Because we think I’ve got my degree, I’ve got my job. I’m in charge of my life now. Now I can do whatever I want with my free time. Well, that’s true to a degree. But what you do with your free time has a tremendous amount of influence on how much free time you have.

Because Yeah, so if I’m spending my free time doing useless stuff, it may be fun. And it may be entertaining. But long term, it’s not actually doing me any good. And so I had to be willing to give up that mindless entertainment short term for the sake of pursuing a long term project that I think has a lot more benefit.

Yeah, I I agree, Joe. And it’s, it’s so often I’ll be chatting to teachers that I work with, and other teachers that I know and they know what I do here. And though the auditor how you have the time to do it. I just don’t have the time to do anything like that. And then it almost seems like it’s 30 seconds later. And they’re asking if I’ve watched you know, last night. Yes, Bachelor?

Oh, yes. That’s exactly it.

Yeah. Well, no, I didn’t watch The Bachelor last night. That’s right.

Yeah. Well, it’s funny, you mentioned that my students laugh at me, because they know because I talked about in class. A lot of times, I don’t have cable TV. I haven’t had cable TV in close to a decade. And it’s not because I’m like, it’s not because I’m holier than now. Like, oh, you know, I’m a better person you because I don’t have cable. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s because I know if I had cable, I would I’m I’m 100% capable of sitting down and watching eight straight hours of Seinfeld reruns. And then complaining that I don’t have time to get anything else done. Because I’ve seen I’ve done that in the past. And so you know, towards the end of my first marriage, and throughout the entire time, I was divorced. And even now, in my second marriage, I just do not have cable. And I know that didn’t know this is different. Because 10 years ago, eight years ago, there was no Netflix there was no Amazon streaming like those weren’t a thing you could do. And so I know that there are other options now. But I just I don’t do them. My wife. And I have one show that we watch on amazon prime, but it’s one that’s already off the air. So we can just watch it whenever we want. And so like we just don’t for like two weeks at a time. And then we’ll watch two or three episodes one night.

And the reason is, because again, if I allowed myself to have amazon prime available all the time, or Hulu or Netflix or whatever, I just know that I am the kind of person that would sit down and I would stay up till three in the morning watching just binge watching whatever I felt like watching. And I can’t afford to do that. If I’m going to teach high school kids every day, if I’m going to spend time with my wife and kids, I can’t afford to sit down and watch two or three hours of TV a day. It’s just not there. And so one of the ways that I make sure I don’t do that is I just don’t have cable and I don’t allow myself to stream stuff online. And again, it’s not because I’m a better person. It’s because I know I’m a worse person. I can’t afford it. I can’t afford to even put myself in the temptation. You know what I mean?


so But you’re right. That is, that’s one of the funny things is a lot of times, and I don’t mean this to criticize, but a lot of times, people who complain the loudest about not having time are some of the people that spend the most time in front of a screen of some variety. You know, as I was talking with college kids at that presentation last night, and one of them brought up, he said, Hey, do you have that app on your phone, where it shows you how much time you spend looking at your phone every day? Then the guys said, Guys next to him said, Yeah, I said, well, what’s your time? He goes, I think last week average about three hours a day.

And he said, Now, not all of that is just wasted time. Some of that’s for work. And I said, No, I get that. But honestly, three hours a day staring at a cell phone.

And when you could see your your little you use your phone for, you know, 10 to 15 seconds at a time. Usually. That’s right.

Yeah, you don’t really think how much adds up. But you mean three hours a day. That is a long time. Like, you can imagine what you could get done in three hours a day, imagine what you get done. And just half that time mean hour and a half a day, you could go run a five K, you could then shower after you ran your five K, you could have a meal, you could read two chapters of a book, like, you know, hour and a half a day. That’s how I would I don’t have a day is how long I spend in the car every day. I would love to have some of that time back. But the life I’ve chosen is to commute to this high school where I teach. So I try to use that hour and a half a day by educating myself. So I listened to a lot of podcasts, listen to a lot of audiobooks. I wrote a book while I was in the car. And so the question is, like, where can you find some of those pockets of time? And how can you redeem them? How can you use them to further whatever your long term goals are, even if it’s only again, even if it’s only 10 or 15 minutes a day, if you want to write a book and you commit to 15 minutes a day of just concentrating on your book, you will get it done in a year, you will just because 15 minutes a day. I mean, you’re talking about almost two hours a week. So you’re talking about close to 100 hours a year, even if you took a few weeks off. Well, how much how much of a book would you get done if you did 100 hours a year?

Yeah, exactly. You know,

I mean that that’s a lot of time and just 15 minutes a day. So you know, it’s it’s one of those things that if you really are serious about whatever your business is, you’ll make time for it or you’ll try to find time for it. And that’s something I learned actually a lot from an Australian who recently became an American citizen, a lady named mean, James. I don’t know if you’re familiar with mean or not. Yeah, she’s wonderful. I love listening to her interviews on podcasts and things like that. She’s been really gracious reaching out. I’ve reached out to her a few times on social media and stuff. And she’s but she talks a lot about focusing on what we’re doing at the time. She recently wrote a book called attention pays, and it just talks about how distracted we are often because of technology and how much wasted time we are losing because of that. And so that was one of the really valuable lessons I learned from her as well.

I love it. I love it. So Joe, we’re going to look at wrapping up you’ve been awesome. Thank you so much for coming on sharing your experiences with the teaches here in Australia and around the world. But at least where can my audience Where can we find you?

Yeah, well, I’ve had a great time as well thanks for having me on. I love talking with teachers especially about teaching but also about life in general. The best way to find me is to come by my website like you mentioned earlier it’s it’s real life and it’s you’ll you’ll find my book on there as well you can also find me on social media on Twitter my handle is at real life leading on Facebook you can find me under my name Joel Hall Baker or you can find I’m slash real life leading you can also find me on LinkedIn just under my name Joel Hawbaker so you know give me a call email me text me whatever. Reach out to me on social media. I would love to hear from an interact with any of your audience. You know if I can help you with teaching stuff for business stuff or anything else hit me up. Let me know how I can help

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