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174 – 23 years of being funny: Tom interviews Ron Culberson
From:
Tom Antion -- Internet Marketing Expert Tom Antion -- Internet Marketing Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Virginia Beach , VA
Friday, August 30, 2019

 

Episode 174 – Ron Culberson
[00:00:07] Welcome to Screw the Commute. The entrepreneurial podcast dedicated to getting you out of the car and into the money, with your host, lifelong entrepreneur and multimillionaire, Tom Antion.

[00:00:23] Hey, everybody, it's Tom here with episode 174 of Screw the commute podcast. We got an old friend of mine, Ron Culberson is here. He's a keynote speaker just fantastically funny and got a great story of how he's come up through the ranks working the rotten J O Bs and then took off on his own. I think 20 some years ago. So I'll introduce him to you in a minute. And I hope you didn't miss episode 173. Diane DiResta and she is a knockout. All right. A knockout presenter is what she is. And that's the name of her book. And so you want to check that episode out later, 173 if you missed it. Also, please tell your friends about the podcast. I know. Yeah, almost everybody knows somebody that either wants to start a business or is already in business. And maybe they're struggling a little bit. Well, we've got tons of things on Mondays. I give you an in-depth training session on something that's either made me or saved me tons of money. And on Wednesdays and Fridays, we interview great entrepreneurs like Ron. So tell him about also tell them about our podcast app and you grab a copy of it at screwthecommute.com/app where we have complete instructions to show you how to use all the fancy features so you can take us with you on the road. Now, I've got a big freebie to thank you for listening. It's my twenty seven dollar e-book, How to Automate Your Business. And just one of the tips in this e-book has saved me over seven and a half million keystrokes and guaranteed it saved me carpal tunnel. You check that out at screwthecommute.com/automatefree. We got another surprise gift when you go there. Of course, all these links and things I'm telling you about and all or Ron's stuff will be in the show notes. This is episode 174. And if you ever want to go directly to an episode, you go to screwthecommute.com slash and then the episode number, which in this case is 174. Now I'm looking for affiliates. Those of you that listen for a long time or have known me or bought products for me, know that I specialize in high quality, reasonably priced products and services. But I love to send out affiliate commissions. I send out lots and lots of those to people that recommend my stuff. So if you are interested in doing that, just email me at orders@antion.com and tell me how you think you could promote and get some affiliate commissions, some of are residual also, which means you get a check every month and they can go anywhere from 10 bucks to an excess of five thousand. All right. So I've got a complete range of everything in between. So email me at orders@antion.com.

[00:03:16] All right. Let's get to the main event. Ron Culberson ranks. Listen to this. In the top 30 of his wife's favorite speakers, he's a funny guy. He he's worked as a hospice social worker, a middle manager, not not a middle finger manager a middle manager and director of quality improvement at Hospice of Northern Virginia. He was also the 2012 2013 president of the National Speakers Association. That's a prestigious organization. And he was recently inducted. Listen to this. Into that organization's Speaker Hall of Fame, that is the highest award you can get in the professional speaking industry. I have no idea how he got it, but it did. All right. So from a creative perspective, Ron has written four books, produced hundreds of blog posts and listen to this. He co-produced two children. So, Ron, are you ready to screw? The commute.

[00:04:25] You know, it's amazing to me. You've been so successful yet you're still in high school.

[00:04:29] I am 64, going on 12. That's my thing. So how you been, man? It's been a long time.

[00:04:38] I know, I know. I know. I've met you when you were funny.

[00:04:44] I traded funny for money. You kept being funny and got money, too. So just different paths to the same thing. A big bank account. So tell everybody what you do now. Your keynote speaker and mostly a humorous speaker to open and close events and things. What types of places you speak at?

[00:05:09] Well, yeah, I. I kind of kept that old school model, you know, the speaking world has evolved to the point that a lot of people that are in it now are, you know, are speaking, but they're also doing consulting or coaching or doing workshops and training. I pretty much I kind of know what my my skills are. And I think what I'm really good at is the is the keynote, the humorous keynote. So I wrote a book back in 2012 called Do It Well, Make It Fun, which is simply about seeking excellence first, but making the process of life and work more fun. And that just really seemed to resonate with people. They seemed to get it. And I've got a decent message. But but primarily, you know, I'm I'm funny. I think when I do the program and I think that's what engages people and makes it a good experience.

[00:05:54] If you're humorous and you've been doing this 23 years, you have to be funny because a lot of people think they're funny and they fizzle out in no time at all, because as being a professional, you know, there's a lot of money involved at these places. And being funny, you know, has more pressure than just delivering the message because people are expected to laugh and they don't you bomb. So you must be pretty darn good at it.

[00:06:20] It took me it took me forever to actually put that on my Web site that I was funny. But I remember you remember Bob Murphy. I'll never forget an audience member when he was talking about writing humor, said to him one time, says, how do you know when you're developing the material if it's funny. He goes, well, if the audience laughs, it's funny. I just thought that's pretty much it.

[00:06:44] Exactly. You know, one of my favorites was you remember Charlie Jarvis. Were you around when he was around?

[00:06:50] I know him. I didn't ever get to meet him. But I know him.

[00:06:52] Oh, my God. Yeah. I mean, I've ever met him in person, but he he was kind enough when I was first starting the talk to me. And I got his tapes and he was just hysterical. He was a former dentist then. Yeah, he was. He was out at San Marcos, Texas, but he was also a national speakers association. So you got to be president of the whole gig. Holy crap. You know, I thought you had to live in Denver to do that.

[00:07:22] Yeah. I think one of the things I discovered when I was in my career, both working in hospice care, which I first did, and then when I got into my business when I was a volunteer on committees and boards, is that I'm pretty good at being on committees. I'm good at it. It's a skill set that I have. And so when you're good at being on a committee that you get being chair. And I think I just kind of worked my way up through different committees and got on the board and then became president. But I really enjoyed that experience. It was just it just it was an honor to first of all, but also just a great experience.

[00:07:53] Absolutely. I mean, I was the president of the D.C. chapter, but I think it was it's funny. When I first joined, I was on the board of directors before my cheque even cleared to join because nobody wanted to do it. Could you could you edit a newsletter? I said, yeah, yeah, I'd sell information prize. All right. You're on the board. I think it's one of those things where you're the person that forgot the step back in the volunteer line.

[00:08:24] Yeah. You know, it gets bad, too, when you start seeing people rotate through a second time.

[00:08:30] Oh, and when I first took over my first year as president, somebody had embezzled like 20 grand. That was a lot of fun to start. Almost broke. So let's take take you back a little bit. Were you an entrepreneurial kid or what? Because you had some pretty traditional type jobs I think, right?

[00:08:54] Well, I have to say, you know, you probably picked the wrong person for your podcast because I am the worst business person that ever lived.

[00:09:00] Well, we can erase it. Don't worry. I can make all kinds of stuff up and edit it in.

[00:09:05] I have I am not an entrepreneur by nature. I think I'm creative.

[00:09:09] Twenty three years you're an entrepreneur, whether you like it or not, man. Twenty three years on your own, making a living in this hard speaking industry. That's an entrepreneur.

[00:09:19] Yeah. So what I did was I went and found people that knew what they're doing. You were one of the people that helped us out early on. We worked with you on marketing and I worked with Arnold Santo on business development. And over the years, whenever I couldn't figure out what to do, I would hire somebody to be a consultant for me to walk me through it. But but I wasn't I wasn't that person that was always living to create a business. I think I was always one of those people that had a job. I started out as a social worker and I did hospice counselling and then I became a middle manager. So I supervised people and then I became a senior manager. So I had kind of a higher level position. But all along I was doing speaking for fun because I really enjoyed it and I was good at it. In my last year, working for hospice was in 1996 and I think I had something like 12 or 14 speaking engagements on the calendar. And I started thinking, man, it's a little bit of effort. I could do this full time. And between you and me, I mean, it didn't take much to equal my social work salary. So it wasn't a big I wasn't making a big leap there to the world of the unknown.

[00:10:24] They're not rich, all those social workers.

[00:10:27] Well, it took a couple of years that I like doubled what I was making in the other job. So but but I think once I got into it, I became a little more entrepreneurial. But I'm also inherently lazy. And so I you know, I did the things that I was good at and those those just seemed to really work towards generating business.

[00:10:46] I hear you. But you. You just said something about a minute ago that was that is a key for entrepreneurs is to get help when you need it. I mean, so that was perfect. I mean, you had a hidden entrepreneur in you that was intuitive enough to not just fight it out until you're broke rather than go get help. So I think I don't care what you say. You're an entrepreneur. You're stuck with it.

[00:11:14] Yeah, well, you know, my nephew asked me the other day, he said, what's the key to success? Which is like one of the hardest questions. I think that's a pretty broad question. But I told him, I said, I think the key to success is if you can do either what you love or what you're really good at and make money at it, it's just nirvana in my perspective. That's just the greatest thing in the world rather than having to do something for someone else, because that's your option. And I think everybody has that ability. It's just figuring it out is sometimes where the trouble is. It's just just trying to figure out what that that niche is or what you're good at and then how to generate revenue as a result of it.

[00:11:50] Yeah. Because, you know, I'm really skeptical that people would say, do what you love and the money will follow. Oh, no, not necessarily. You can do that right into the poorhouse. So you have to balance what you love with something that's saleable in the marketplace or, you know, you're just kind of doing a hobby and spending a lot of money and time to. Do you have a family?

[00:12:12] Yep, yep. I married my college sweetheart and we have two children and ones we always kind of wondered. My wife worked at IBM for 30 years, so she had the corporate job. And then I kind of after 10 years, went out on my own, says really curious what my kids would do, but they kind of took traditional pass. My daughter's a schoolteacher, my son's a civil engineer. So I guess that means he's really nice.

[00:12:35] It could be. So is your wife involved in your business at all?

[00:12:40] Yeah. Now now she is. She retired from IBM a few years ago and works about 20 hours a week with me. She does some other things, some volunteer work and some substitute teaching and things like that. So she's just probably actually busier than me right now.

[00:12:53] Did she do the bookings for you and all?

[00:12:56] What she does is she's like the first contact when inquiries come in and she sets up a phone call with me and then I do the call and then I pretty much channel everything from that point on. But but she also does all the behind the scenes. She manages all the bank accounts, she manages all the bookkeeping and all of that stuff, because she's really good at that. She reminds me she was in the math club in college. So clearly that's a skill set that she has.

[00:13:22] All right. Now, let me ask you this, though. We might be revealing big secrets here. So when somebody does an incoming call, is it clear to them that she's your wife or is she just the biggest advocate of you? Oh, he's the greatest speaker ever. I'd even sleep with him, maybe.

[00:13:40] Well, you know, it's funny because, you know, you've seen those people that try to hide that they're working with their spouse and they try to hide it. I've always been one of these people. It's like, oh, you've got to be transparent. Her title is actually Director of Ron that's on her business card. And that pretty much reveals it.

[00:13:57] Some people absolutely try to hide that when they're found out. Everybody's like. And that was that was bad. So what kind of places do you speak?

[00:14:10] Well, because of my health care background, I tend to be more heavily involved in the healthcare world. So speaking in a lot of healthcare conferences for healthcare organizations. You know, I made a decision probably 10 or 12 years ago that I really enjoyed. I maybe longer go, I don't know, but I really enjoyed working in the world of where people are mission driven. So organizations where people are there because they want to be there because it's doing something valuable. So those also tend to be nonprofit organizations. So I'm probably you know, I maybe do a couple of corporate engagements a year, but the vast majority, what I do is nonprofit, either health care, I have a few school systems like this month, I'm speaking to four different school systems. When the teachers come back to school, I do a few government agencies, but for the most part, they're all nonprofit. So I've never been. And I think with my social work background, it kind of it works for me because that's a good niche for me. But I've never been that big, big time corporate speaker. That just never was the thing that drove me.

[00:15:12] I'm wondering if they'll be more and more of those, because a lot of the younger people coming up, the millennials and all that are kind of, you know, they want to work at a place that's got more of a mission than it seems that that's why it's so wonderful to be more of that mission driven companies in the future.

[00:15:30] Yeah, I think it I think it is. And I just find that it's just I just really like the people. I find that I can relate to them. I think a little bit of a common background. And so so my material really seems to fit well there. And and again, I think that goes back to what you're saying before. You know, if you can figure out what works and find your place, then it makes everything so much easier.

[00:15:52] Yeah. And I know and I did not listen when I first got into the speaker's association. I mean, I had come out of that comic background. I had done a thousand comic performances and I got in there and and the elders were telling me, hey, you're pretty good, you're pretty good. But you need the niche. You need the niche. And I'm thinking like that, that's too boring. I went to 87 different industries in the first five years. And as soon as I got my two by four to the head, that man, this is a lot of work because I'm very customized. And so I would go, you know, nobody in the Pennsylvania Dry Cleaning Association knew anybody in the Nebraska plumbing association. So you'd fight it out for every job. But as soon as I decided to niche, oh, man, everything a lot easier and the fees went up and, you know, all kinds of stuff went better. So it's I think that's a good traditional thing to stick with is get a place where your name spreads in that industry. Because when I was doing it, you know, it. It was spread to that day and that was it. I'd start over again next day.

[00:17:00] It is true. I mean, I think you could do that. You can be a generalist. I think it is a little more work. But if you're a celebrity, obviously everybody goes after you, but. Yeah. I just I find that I run into people all the time that say things like, I've heard your name made me realize where or how they connected with it. But that means that it's just I'm staying in a certain role and that's that thing.

[00:17:23] So anything think crazy bizarre happen in your 23 years of speaking.

[00:17:29] So. So I think one of the most fun things for me and you, you probably know Dale Irvine and professional advisor and he's this is what he does for a living. But I think most of us that are humorous at some point, you know, we've all kind of you know, we're the last speaker of the day. We're on at 4:00 PM. And so we just we do some callbacks to things that happen, but. Right. So I think all of us kind of do that. He does it. That's the only thing he does. That's why he's so good. I shouldn't you might call back to something funny that happened. So I had this experience where the guy before me had he was doing a program on conflict or something and he had his opening slide was the title of the program, his name and then the date, which was something like June 21st, 2005. But right after the comma or a comma, he had had a typo and there was an s the letter s there s as in Sam. And. And he just says, oh, my gosh, he leans over me again is a typo in my slide. I didn't see that. So he gets introduced. He walks up there. He made some lame comment about the slide and a couple people chuckled. But I just took a note down. And so I thought, well, that's kind of interesting. So I got up there and. And so I walked up. When I was introduced, I said, you know, Joe there, he was really nervous when he walked up and he saw that that the date had June 21st, comma, and then there was an s there. And he leaned over to me and he goes, Do you think that comma makes my ass look big?

[00:18:54] And I'm telling you, I'm telling you I had to wait. I mean, the place erupted and I thought, I don't think there's anything better than to do something that's in the moment, you know, that just happened to be able to comment on it and add a little humor. And I think all of us that are humor speakers, we live for that moment where we get to we get to acknowledge or comment on something that really was funny.

[00:19:15] Oh, yeah. One of my favorites doing this luncheon for a bunch of little old ladies. I don't remember what it was. It was long time ago. And the the menu for the luncheon was tuna temptation and all these. Look, you can see it cover all these ladies there. Oh, the tuna temptation was wonderful. This is all the talk. So I got up and I said, you know, I generally don't like seafood that much, but that catfish convulsion was really good. I think there's a couple of heart attacks. But they loved it. So what's the what's what do you like best about working for yourself and what's the worst part?

[00:19:59] The best part about it is the flexibility. I mean, I've often had this discussion with my wife because when she was working full time at IBM, you know, she pretty much had the 9 to 5 job. It was more like eight to seven. You know, I mean, she had long hours. But she was locked into those hours. She was up in Maryland, but we were living in Northern Virginia. A plumber or an electrician or somebody, you know, was always a hassle. The kids are sick. Always a hassle. So I love the flexibility that I had that when I wasn't on the road, I had the flexibility to schedule things like that. I could get the kids, if necessary, early. I love the fact that I can make my own lunch, that the day is a little less structured. The downside of my job is that when I'm traveling, I have no options. And, you know, it's I'm speaking in the event. It's very hard to just say, hey, I can't come in today because I have a dentist appointment. I've only had to cancel two programs in twenty three years. One of them was during 9/11. And the other one was when my dad was very ill, we thought he probably was not going to make it. So I just sort of in anticipation that I got somebody else to fill in for me for a program. But but, you know, that's. So the downside is, is a little bit of the inflexibility and the travel. I mean, I'm on the road probably 100 to 120 days a year. But, you know, it's it's like that's the job. And, you know, go into it knowing that. So you just make the best of it. But the other downside, I guess the hard thing for me is I already said this. I'm kind of lazy. I'm also not real disciplined. And, you know, I'm the guy that I'm sitting by the window typing or writing a blog or something. And I see a bird out there. And then I start thinking, man, why do birds hop so high. And then the next thing I'm on that I'm on the Internet looking at bird videos. And then an ad for food comes on and I'm in the kitchen getting a sandwich. So that's the part that's probably the worst part for me is that I don't have the self-discipline.

[00:22:01] That's probably is part of what makes you funny. You know, I mean, it's just a lot of comedians have that same thing, but they see things differently. I mean, I know I was walking through the mall up there, Tyson's Corner, something, and nobody probably in the whole mall in the shoe store noticed this, but there was a big thing of shoes and they were all white like nurse's shoes. And there was a big sign that said all our spring colors. Who can't see that? Right. You and I would see it. But the. So I totally, totally get that. So we've got to take a brief sponsor break and we come back. We're gonna ask Ron what's a typical day look like for him and how many bird videos he's actually watched in one day and maybe some cat videos, too. And then we'll ask him how he stays motivated.

[00:22:58] So, folks. About 20 years ago, I kind of turned the Internet marketing road on its head, guys, that my level were charging 20, 30, 40, 50, sometimes a hundred thousand dollars up front to help people learn these skills, the selling online. And I said, you know, that's too risky for businesses to put that kind of money in. A lot of people charging that were rip offs. Anyway, it wouldn't really help the people. So I turned that upside down by charging a small entry fee and then a percentage of profits. That was capped. So for them to not get stuck with me, they just paid up to the cap out of their profits. And for me to get my big money, they had to make way bigger money. They were all thrilled about it. So. So. Seventeen hundred students later. It's still running. It's very unique in that you spend an immersion weekend actually live in my home with me. You have unlimited access to me and my whole staff with one on one tutoring the teacher, this stuff, and you get a scholarship to buy Internet marketing school. It's by the way, it's located next to Mount TrashMore. That's the actual name of the old garbage dump. That's now a beautiful park in Virginia Beach but it's distance learning. So you don't have to smell any kind of garbage to come to. So anyway, it's very unique. And I'd love to help you make a lot of money and save a lot of money, which I've done for, you know, almost 2000 students over many, many years. So check it out at greatinternetmarketingtraining.com.

[00:24:36] All right. So let's get back to the main event. Ron Culbertson is here. He's a keynote speaker for over twenty three years and a funny guy. So, Ron, besides watching bird videos, what's the typical day look like? Well, let's let's say when you're home and then when you're on the road. What's the difference?

[00:24:57] Well, when I'm home, I have to tell you, we live in the mountains of Virginia now. And I just I feel like I'm on a retreat when I'm home. So I truly just love being here.

[00:25:06] So you're out of the rat race because used to live in northern Virginia, which was where I lived. That was just crazy up there.

[00:25:13] Yeah. Yeah. And you know it every time I go up there, I'm grateful that we loved it and it served us well. But I'm grateful we live where we live.

[00:25:20] Where do you fly out of now?

[00:25:24] I go out to Charlottesville a lot. Charlotte, if I have trouble putting it together, I'll I'll fly out of Dulles, just drive up to Dulles. Okay. Good. Go. Yeah, but it's also pretty good. They've united and they go direct to Chicago. Yeah, it's just pretty good. But a typical day at home is often doing things like this. I'll I'll you know, I'll be on a call with someone. I'll perhaps be doing contracts or reviewing contracts or putting proposals together, having client calls to prepare for events. I write a blog. I my blog is very irregularly put out. It's not it's not like once a week kind of thing. I usually do it every three or four weeks. So but I write a lot and I really put a lot of time and energy into the writing. I don't just like just put it together real quick and shoot it out. So I spend some time on it. That's why I don't do one a week. But I'll be doing that. You know, sometimes I have some volunteer activities. I am actually a volunteer ambulance driver. So I have three to four days a month that I'm on call for that in our area.

[00:26:32] We had some ambulance chasers on here. You're the first driver.

[00:26:40] Yeah. Right. Not much money in volunteerism, but it's something I've always done. And so it's it's a big thing. But then when I'm on the road, it's a pretty, pretty regimented thing. I'm you know, I'm usually flying in the day before speaking engagement the next day. If I'm first off that I'm getting ready and going down and getting the room ready and checking all the equipment, the mikes on, then if I'm at the end of the day, I'm one of these people that if I'm speaking at the end of day, I will sit through the entire day. I want to see what everybody else is doing.

[00:27:08] When you get those callbacks and don't say something that somebody else exactly said, you sound like you're out of touch.

[00:27:16] Yeah. I want to know what's been said and I want to know what the audience hears. So I spend time paying attention to that and then incorporate stuff as appropriate. But, you know, so I'm in the planes and airports and hotels and then at the conferences and I usually come right back as soon as I can. So that's that's kind of a typical day there.

[00:27:32] I have been on a plane in two years, and I'm thrilled. You could have my share man. I was in a hunting accident. It would have been a great story had I gotten shot. No, I fell on a log and tore up my intestines. They're dragging me out of the woods. 13 inches of snow in a blizzard. And I'm crying like a baby. And the worst part about it, though, Ron, was I swear I could hear a bunch of deer laughing as they were dragging me out. And then they throw me in my my trailer till the ambulance can get there in this big blizzard and laying in the door of my hunting trailer. And I'm laying there and screaming and it's hurtin and my head is getting really hot. And I'm like, oh, my God, I'm really losing it. Something's gone wrong. My Mr. Buddy Heater propane heater was right behind my head, almost caught my head on fire. So anyway, they flew me or they got me to the trauma center. Then it was the intensive care. Six months of rehab. But anyway, all of that was great compared to getting on planes. I don't know what's worse? So. So tell us about your books. You have four books, out right.

[00:29:01] Yeah. Yes. So the first book I did was kind of an observational book on humor and just seeing a human life. The second book I did was just this random, silly thing. It's now out of print, but it was just this idea of putting together a random thought every day in the name of that book was called My Kneecap Seems Too Loose and it was just this ridiculous thing. Like I was just coming up with funny things to put on Facebook. And I said, What am I doing? I'm gonna put this in a book. So there are 365 just random comments. The funniest part of that book, though, was that the Mayo Clinic ordered 50 copies because I thought it was a medical book. Two weeks later, I get this little sheepish call. She says, we misunderstood this book. Could we return it? I said sure.

[00:29:45] No, you should have said no. You just don't understand that there's a deep metaphysical message in this book.

[00:29:56] But my main book was the Do It Well, Make It Fun, which is in 2012. And that's really my main message these days. It's kind of the umbrella that everything falls under. And then I did a book last year called If Not Now When? And that was more of a compilation of all the articles and columns and blogs, the ones that got the most comments. I kind of put them all together in a book.

[00:30:20] Get these on your Web site or Amazon or what?

[00:30:23] My Web site and on Amazon.

[00:30:24] Ok. And then if they want to contact you about a speaking engagement, call your. Call your wife. The Director of Ron. ronculberson.com.

[00:30:47] And we'll have all that in the show notes folks. So make sure you get a copy of those books because he's got extra kneecap books left over, because the returns.

[00:31:01] Have got a basement full of all of them.

[00:31:03] Just just like that. Cracks me up. Ordered by the Mayo Clinic.

[00:31:10] Yeah, I was so honored.

[00:31:16] That's great. Well, thanks so much for taking the time. I mean, we're talking to the past president of the National Speakers Association, a CPAE, twenty three years of doing what he loves. So folks and doing a great job at it. Like when you heard him talking about listening to everybody else ahead of time, because that's what professionals do. They pay attention. And that's how part of the reason he's made it twenty three years in this tough business because he acts like a pro. Thanks so much, Ron, for coming on.

[00:31:50] It's a pleasure. It's been way too long talking to you and I really appreciate your inviting me.

[00:31:54] Ok, everybody. So we will catch you on the next episode. See ya Later.

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