As the story goes, NBA Hall of Fame inductee and player Larry Bird signed with the late legendary sports agent Bob Woolf after interviewing a number of high-powered sports agents and asking them who he should sign with if not with them. Each agent answered Bob Woolf. The Speaker Experts are on the receiving end of this type of question occasionally, being asked “…if you were not with Keppler Speakers and were going to book a speaker, who would you work with?” Our thinking has evolved on this issue over the years, and today the answer to this question now is that it depends. There are really four agents that fulfill the answer to this question, but it depends on the question seeker’s position within an organization, their speaker needs, and desired outcome for the event. The following four agents represent the Mt. Rushmore of speaker agents, and if there were ever a speaker agent Hall Of Fame, they would be inducted immediately. Let’s take a look:

Stern D-Blog PhotoIf I am a CEO in need of a speaker to consult and advise at the highest strategic levels, I would call Danny Stern.

Mr. Stern was President of the Leigh Bureau from 1991-2002 and spent 12 years in the speaker industry prior to that. During his time at Leigh Bureau, Stern signed and managed some of the world’s great strategic thinkers. He consulted with Fortune 500 companies at the highest levels, helping them select speakers that would shape their corporate strategy for years into the future.

Where is he now? Stern is with Stern Speakers, a speaker bureau that represents some of the nation’s leading thought leaders including Clayton Christensen, Michael Porter, Dave Ulrich, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Michael Beer, Nicholas Negroponte, Dov Seidman, Jim Champy, and others. Stern is someone you should speak with if your organization seeks a world class thought leader.

Stern is the George Washington of the speaker agent Mt. Rushmore: invested in the cause and a visionary leader.

D'Amelio T-Blog PhotoIf I am a senior-level corporate executive in sales, marketing, or business development, my first call is to Tony D’Amelio.

Tony D’Amelio started his speaker bureau career with Lordly and Dame in the early 1980s and then spent 27 years with the prestigious Washington Speakers Bureau. D’Amelio worked his way to Executive Vice President by having a keen understanding of the needs of his clients, along with the abilities of his speakers, to perfectly partner presentations. He may be the single most prolific speaker agent in the history of the industry and was a cornerstone to the success, development and growth of WSB for almost 3 decades.

Where is he now? D’Amelio took time off after his tenure with WSB to pursue a different passion: education. He is the founder and co-president of the premiere city-wide college scholarship foundation in Stamford, Connecticut, called Stamford Dollars for Scholars. D’Amelio is still active in the speaker industry today as founder of the D’Amelio Network LLC. His clients include some of the nation’s most requested speakers including Mike Abrashoff, Geoff Colvin, Katty Kay and David Meerman Scott.

D’Amelio is the Thomas Jefferson of our speaker agent Mt. Rushmore: intelligent, determined, industrious and hardworking.

Check back next week when we unveil the remaining two speaker agents who complete the Mt Rushmore of speaker bureau representatives. One is an association specialist whose Abraham Lincoln-type qualities build consensus in the fractured Washington, DC landscape. The other is the industry’s Theodore Roosevelt and the one agent I would turn to if the fate of the world depended the success of one specific speaker.

Gary McManis & Jay Conklin

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