Ryan Estis challenges conventional thinking on corporate culture, communication, client acquisition, brand ambassadorship and change. Recently recognized as “one of the best keynote speakers ever heard” by Meetings & Conventions magazine alongside Tony Robbins, Bill Gates, Al Gore, and Marcus Buckingham, Ryan helps companies, leaders, and sellers more effectively connect to their two most important audiences: employees and customers. Guiding audiences through the realities of the new economy, Ryan blends interaction, energy, and actionable content to transform and elevate your business outcomes. Below, Forbes looks at the ways Ryan helps organizations lead through change:
“You’re going to look back at this in a few years and the only regret you’re going to have is that you didn’t do it 5 years earlier.”
It’s what Ryan Estis’ best friend said to him after he left his six-figure executive job at McCann Erickson World Group. Ryan’s journey is an inspiring one, not because of his success, but because of his courage and the sacrifices he’s made that’s shaped who he’s become. He has an insatiable appetite to help organizations lead through change and he’s willing to get his hands dirty to make an impact.
Listen to the full interview with Ryan Estis here.
I wanted to know how he mustered the courage to bet on himself when his friends thought he was crazy to leave his job at the height of the worst recession in 50 years. What guard rails did he use to keep himself on track? What has he learned about leadership throughout the 79 keynote speeches last year?
Ryan’s career trajectory soared as a sales professional, but there was something missing. So in January of 2009 he quit his job and forged on his path as an entrepreneur.
“My friends thought I lost my damn mind. Two of them took me to dinner for an intervention. “Are you averse to money?” They asked begrudgingly. But there were a couple friends I really trusted that believed in me, maybe more than I believed in myself.”
It was then when he had his Jerry Maguire moment. “Who’s with me?!” He asked, as he hired the best salesperson he knew to join him. Ryan knew he had to remove any Plan B options to go ‘all in’ on himself.
“I told myself this was my plan for the next 18 months and then to come up for air then, and only then, to re-evaluate.”
He said there was something about discipline that could be a catalyst for momentum. What he meant was that he was intentional about making sacrifices while he was launching his speaking and consulting business.
“One of the ways to manage fear is to think about your worst-case scenario. For me it was getting a job comparable to what I had before. Once I believed I could actually do that it mitigated the fear.”
Ryan then made a decision to make self-imposed sacrifices to conserve money. He quit playing golf and focused on what he needed to survive. He wanted to remember the feeling of rolling up his sleeves and focusing on something that mattered to him. He said that if you’re that far into something, you’re going to find out a way to make it work.
“I wanted to feel what it felt like to open a can of StarKist tuna with a fork, throw it away, and go right back to work. That was my lunch for a year.”
Ryan said the measure of a great speech is whether or not the speaker receives referrals from the audience. Well, Ryan was receiving referrals and his business hit an inflection point as he was traveling throughout the country working with Fortune 500 companies.
He credits his success to the time he invests with people inside an organization before he consults or delivers a keynote. He surveys to understand the health of an organization to make his work relevant to the audience.
Through his experience, he’s made a distinction that the best leaders are what he’s coined future makers. They are purpose-driven and have confidence in the future of the organization. They have a vision and take personal responsibility to enlist others into that vision.
“The best leaders have the courage to clearly communicate what you can expect from them. They lead by example to build trust and a culture of accountability,” Ryan explained.
He’s observed that the most effective leaders create space to reflect, often through writing or journaling. He believes writing your thoughts down helps you become a more effective communicator and offers perspective.
Ryan’s conviction when he speaks has me leaning in. “The word is changing so fast and most organizations are under pressure to evolve with it. Leadership has to be a catalyst to effectively navigate change and to get more contribution from the people inside the organization.
“It’s not about what we accumulate, it’s about who we become,” Ryan told me as he was reflecting on his own journey. His focus on helping others succeed helps to take off the pressure on himself to perform.
“It’s an obligation when I show up to be the best version of myself,” he declared.