Speaker and Local Business Owner
There aren’t many situations where Jeff Klein stands in front of a crowd and stumbles over where to begin telling a story. Klein is one of the premier public speakers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and the owner of Speaker Co-Op, an online directory that helps people find speakers for their events and also teaches business owners how to grow their businesses through networking and public speaking.
He has enjoyed speaking over 500 times while reaching tens of thousands of professionals at trade associations, sales organizations, national conventions, corporate teams, and business groups. He’s also the author of the eBook, 30 Seconds to Success, which focuses on helping people perfect their elevator pitch.
Klein is amazing at what he does. And the fact that he gets to help other business owners create opportunities to do the same thing is, well, the icing on the cake. But to say he took a long and winding path to get to this point in his career would be an understatement – which is why he’s suddenly at a loss for words.
How did he begin?
“Where do I start,” Klein said with a laugh. “I never set out to be a public speaker, but here I am.”
Klein’s career began in the early 1990s and over that time he had successful careers in advertising, marketing, sales, and production. His goal coming out of college was to go into the film industry, and he did just that while working on various television shows, commercials, corporate videos, and movies. One of his claims to fame is the television series Wishbone, which ran from 1995-1998. But as he was getting out of that business, he stumbled into becoming the executive director of the Texas Association of Film/Tape Professionals.
“One of the presidents of the association asked me if I wanted to work at the office part-time, and it seemed like good timing and a good idea. Six months later, they offer me the executive director job,” Klein said. “It was an exit from being self-employed, and it was a great experience. I went to Austin and testified before the legislators about the film industry and promoted the film business around the country.”
Klein did that for about three years before moving into film production sales for the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars and eventually as a rep for a start-up minority advertising agency. After that, he worked at the Studios of Las Colinas as a sales representative.
That’s when things started getting interesting.
Transition from Employee to Business Owner
“I came away from all of that wanting to be my own boss again,” Klein said. “I got into creative advertising in 2001, and along that journey, I started going to National Speakers Association meetings as a vendor to get speakers to hire me to do their videos and websites. But while I was there, I got all the education. Not long after, I joined an organization called CEO Space, which is an international entrepreneurs club.”
Klein proved to be a quick study. He found himself speaking at CEO Space meetings under the guidance of state director, Kende-le Permin, who he credits for not only getting him into public speaking but teaching him the art of the 30-second elevator pitch.
That experience then led to him speaking at other venues about similar topics – which happened to be the 30-second elevator pitch.
“I recognized that I was promoting my business when I was speaking about networking because networking is your most basic way of advertising,” Klein said. “So I started doing public speaking and began meeting other people who were speaking to promote their business. Next thing I know, someone calls me and says they want to pay me to do a workshop on what I just spoke about for 20 minutes.”
And Speaker Co-Op was born. Klein set a goal in 2007 to speak at least once a week, then bumped that goal up to two speaking engagements per week the very next year. By the third year, the business had taken on a life of its own.
“Three years, 250 talks. I figured a bunch of things out during that time,” Klein said. “Zig Ziglar tells us there’s no such thing as a free talk, and I live that every single day.”
Over the years, Klein has made it his mission in life to teach other public speakers his system of speaking to get more business. Every speaker has his or her own content, but the key is to follow his system.
“I teach them how to get results, and I absolutely love what I do,” Klein said. “Several years ago as all of this was congealing, everything clicked that this is what I’m supposed to be doing – helping people grow their business, whether it’s through networking or public speaking.”
“I’m in my early 50s, and I have no intention of retiring anytime soon. I’ll speak until I can’t speak anymore.”
And that is what you call a long and winding path worth traveling.
If you’d like to read more about what Jeff Klein has to teach about public speaking and the 30-second elevator speech, check out this article we posted with eight tips to make sure you are doing your pitch the right way.