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Securing $20,000 Speaking Engagements with Chester Elton: Podcast #28

How to leverage your writing, speaking, and training expertise to increase your consulting fees.


I’m very pleased to be joined today by Chester Elton, a recognized expert in business and leadership. Chester has worked together with his partner, Adrian Gostick, for over 20 years to create networks where people feel engaged, enabled, and energized. They are the authors of several leadership books, including the newly released The Best Team Wins: The New Science of High Performance. Known as “The Carrot Guys,” Chester and Adrian believe that as you motivate and recognize passionate people in the right positions and create a culture they connect with, business success will naturally follow. In our conversation, we dive into the importance of writing the best books, ways to successfully grow your consulting business, and how to increase your expertise so that you can increase your consulting fees, all on this episode of The Consulting Success Podcast with Chester Elton.

Writing The Best Books

Before becoming a world-renowned author and cultivator of successful business culture, Chester worked for his college newspaper at Brigham Young University in Utah. After graduation he worked in advertising in New York City, selling both ad space and ‘air space.’  Soon he started down the path of selling recognition programs, where he worked for 19 years to help businesses understand the importance of valuing and recognizing their employees. His first book was the genesis of his relationship with Adrian Gostick, as well as his positioning as a thought leader of recognition in the business world. 11 books, 1.5 million copies and 30 languages later, Chester and Adrian have clearly set themselves apart in exactly the ways they set out to.

Any consultant who has ever considered writing a book recognizes the mountain before them.  It can seem entirely overwhelming to even know where to start. For Chester, there was little trepidation when faced with the daunting task of writing his first book, and he gives that credit to the support system that he surrounded himself with. Just as you’ve heard me say many times before, his network was the key to his success. His network became the critical link to his success. Between his partnership with Adrian, their editor, publisher, and the many mentors who supported them along the way, the partners were able to confidently conquer their first book, as well as the many other books that have followed. If you can surround yourself by people that will encourage you along the way, you will be able to conquer the mountain of expert writing as well, and you will enjoy the benefits that follow soon after.

You should also not be afraid to grow slowly, or be afraid to have patience with your company as you figure out how to meet your financial and timeline goals. If you feel like you’re rushing, have the confidence to step back and patiently work through the problems in front of you so that you can get it right.

The quality writing that you produce, whether it be as monumental as your first book or as simple as a white paper or blog post, will be beneficial the success of your consulting business.  Writing helps to solidify your why — not just what you do and how you do it, but why you are doing it and why other people should listen to you as a thought leader in your industry.

Charging Fees Like An Expert

Once you have established yourself as an expert, you can charge the fees that accompany expertise. Chester and Adrian started their speaking engagements at a mere $1,000 per event.  But their success quickly escalated as they became more accomplished writers. As they charged more for their speaking events, they found that more important people started attending their sessions. When they started charging upwards of $20,000 per session, the CEO started showing up. As a result of their successful writing and speaking engagements, people began inquiring about the training options they offered. So once again the team tapped into their network, surrounded themselves with smart people and created a very successful training practice.

Along pathway to success, Chester and Adrian have always been sure to keep their focus front and center. By remembering their why they have been able to continuously enjoy success and help people wake up in the morning to a job that they love. Chester talks about the inspiration he’s gained from Marshall Goldsmith, and you may find similarities between him and the mentors that you have chosen to surround yourself with as you pursue your consulting success. Chester is another example of the successful consulting truth that I constantly share — your network is the greatest tool that you have in your possession.

The Intentional Evolution of a Successful Business

Creating a successful consulting business requires intentionality. Chester shares his story of the natural evolution of his business and points out that the key to success was the intentional effort that he and Adrian put into it. Again, the main and recurring theme of Chester’s success — like so many other consultants — is the network that he leaned on. The people that he surrounded himself with helped him to realize the success that he enjoys today.

Chester notes that one of the greatest things he’s learned from his mentors is the mistakes that they have made along the way. Like him, there is no reason for you to make every common consulting mistake yourself — you can connect yourself to the best people in your industry and let them teach you, based on their experiences.

You should also not be afraid to grow slowly, or be afraid to have patience with your company as you figure out how to meet your financial and timeline goals. If you feel like you’re rushing, have the confidence to step back and patiently work through the problems in front of you so that you can get it right. You’ll want to hear his advice to understand how it can work for you, too.

This advice he shares may seem obvious, but it has made all the difference in Chester’s success — intentionality shows through in everything you do. If you want to write a best-selling book, write a really great book! The intentionality that you put into any of your work will show through, and the transition from expert writer to expert speaker, and then to expert trainer will be a very natural one.

In addition to writing, Chester shares a second critical part of success, which is being very public about the work you are doing. You have to be willing to put yourself out there and connect with as many people as you can. LinkedIn is an excellent resource for building your network in any industry, and I hope you are using it to your full advantage. If not, listen to the challenge that Chester has for you to optimize your publicity and network opportunities, and you just may realize that there is more you could be doing to maximize the intentional success of your consultancy.

The Purpose Behind The Carrot Guys

Having a purpose is endearing to people. For Chester, the work of helping people motivate and appreciate their employees has become his purpose. He talks about his mascot, his motivation, and the voice that he has found from his work as one of the two very successful Carrot Guys.

As you listen to this episode of The Consulting Success Podcast, ask yourself — as you enjoy the journey, what are you doing today to live the dream? When you know your answer, you will be able to hone your message and fine-tune your brand. If you can share the why of your work with your friends and your network, you will be able to stay focused and stay successful in your growing consulting business.

As we wrap up our conversation, Chester shares some really great tips about the absolute importance of staying focused on your work, remembering your whys, and how you can find the consulting success you’ve been seeking as a result. You won’t want to miss out on the many ways that this advice has worked in his life, and you can hear all about it on this episode of The Consulting Success Podcast with Chester Elton.

Key Takeaways:

[:20] Meeting Chester Elton — leadership expert, cultivator of thriving business culture and accomplished author.
[5:00] Finding the courage to author your first book starts with the strength of your network.
[7:25] Key tips for positioning yourself as an expert consultant, speaker, and writer.
[12:26] The intentional evolution of a successful consulting business.
[18:44] Chester’s top business mistakes — learning experiences — that you can learn from.
[22:13] Upcoming projects and excitement for Chester, starting with The Best Team Wins.
[24:30] All about the whys behind The Carrot Guys.
[27:09] Connecting with Chester.

Mentioned in This Episode:

Chester Elton

The Culture Works

The Best Team Wins: The New Science of High Performance, by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

The Carrot Principle: How the Best Managers Use Recognition to Engage Their People, Retain Talent, and Accelerate Performance, by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

All In: How the Best Managers a Create Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results, ?by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

What Motivates Me: Put Your Passions to Work, by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton

Managing With Carrots: Using Recognition to Attract and Retain the Best People, ?by Chester Elton and Adrian Gostick

Marshall Goldsmith’s MG100

I Am Third, by Gale Sayers


"Writing helps to galvanize your philosophy of not just what you do and how you do it, but why you do it." - Chester Elton Click To Tweet "When you charge $1,000 you get the staff; when you charge $20,000 the CEO will show up." - Chester Elton Click To Tweet "Surround yourself with good people and smart people and realize - there are a lot of things you don't know." - Chester Elton Click To Tweet "Don't be afraid to be patient, and don't be afraid to grow your business slowly." - Chester Elton Click To Tweet
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