When did you decide to start speaking?
Michael: During my challenges, at first I wasn’t really aware of the lessons I had learned while traveling. I was just trying to make things happen without really thinking about my personal and professional development. In ‘How to Travel the World for Free,’ I basically had to survive on the road without money for accommodation, food, and travel to make it 30,000 miles to Antarctica. In ‘How to Barter for Paradise’ it was the same story. I might have reflected that I was constantly acting out of my comfort zone, but I didn’t think further ahead in terms of learning how to become one of the new speakers. Just two years after these two challenges, I sat down and reflected on personal development and the lessons I had learned on leadership, sales, and, above all, change management.
During those adventures, I had to constantly embrace change to achieve my goals. I remember that I had to act out an endless amount of different roles during my trip around the world without money. One day, I had to be the funny guy to entertain people and to get food for free. Other days, I had to be the most trustworthy individual, a good listener, or develop creative ideas to make things happen. This happened in constantly changing settings: in cities in the U.S., on the road, on a container ship, or somewhere in the rain forest. Change was the key to success.
I sat down after the trip to reflect on all the lessons I learned on change management. Finally, I realized that this is something I should forward on to the corporate world on stage—I became one of the internationally recognized change management speakers! Nowadays, the BigSpeak Speakers Bureau supports my keynotes. I am in touch with many corporate leaders on how to access high-level performance combined with a healthy work culture. This can be a challenge, especially in times of change. But most of my corporate events encourage staff, executives, and entire leadership teams to strive for higher performance, better changes, and a healthy work culture.
How much change management is realistic?
Michael: There are different ways to achieve successful change management. I work on all three levels. 1. Keynotes that inspire, 2. Workshops and seminars that dig deeper, and 3. One-on-one employee coaching to tackle deeper obstacles and motivate change. It often depends on the occasion and the needs of an organization. I know companies that are in the middle of an intense change process and need an impulse moment at a convention to make everyone get up, look forward, and see their fears as something to overcome. Keynotes are fine here!
If entire teams are having a hard time embracing change, the dynamics can be negative in terms of change, so it’s wise to go for a workshop rather than a keynote. One-on-one coaching should be implemented if employees and leadership teams really wish to move to the next level. It only works if everyone really wants the coaching, and it’s not just offered by the HR department. The strongest results in terms of change management experience occur when organizations combine two of the three options.
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