As executive vice president-innovation at Publicis' Zenith unit, Tom Goodwin spends much of his time traveling around the world speaking at events about the rapidly changing worlds of media, marketing and consumer behavior. Along the way, he stumbles upon an insight that much of the events taking place in the ad industry -- and others, as well -- have grown reductive and redundant, because they generally are drawing from the same pool of professional speakers.
At the same time, Goodwin’s travels have brought him in touch with a variety of interesting personalities whom are inherently interesting to hear talk. The result is interestingspeakers.com, which Goodwin calls a “matching platform” for connecting event organizers with interesting speaker candidates they might not otherwise stumble upon.
Don’t worry, he’s not quitting his day job. Goodwin, who is partnering with marketing communications independent Adriana Stan, considers the project an avocation, and more of a passion project that grew out of meeting lots of passionate people who like to speak.
The project began three years ago when Goodwin and Stan founded a salon-like series of speaking events dubbed Interesting People in Interesting Times and the idea began to groundswell to the point that they felt they needed a digital platform to serve as a clearinghouse.
The site takes no fees from either speakers or event organizers, although it has a tip jar for anyone who wants to help support the effort, and if it ends up breaking even, Goodwin and Stan say they would be thrilled. The main goal, they say, is to enable a wider audience for people who have something important to say.
And they have an interesting track record to justify that goal.
“About two years ago, we discovered someone who was a very unlikely Presidential candidate,” recalls Stan, adding, “We thought there was something very interesting about him, especially how he talks about the intersection of tech and society.
“We decided to give him is very first -- as far as we know -- talk. We put out a podcast and he went onto Reddit and that was the beginning of Andrew Yang’s campaign.”
While not all of their Interesting People speakers gave jumped to that kind of stage, Stan and Goodwin are proud to have provided a platform for people who otherwise might have gone unnoticed, catapulting early Interesting People like author Maria Konnicova (“The Confidence Game”), composter and jazz pianist Dan Tepfer and tech humanist Kate O’Neill on the speaking circuit.
Their new site, they say, fills a void between professional speaker bureaus and “speaker marketplaces,” which on one end are costly and generic and on the other end can be tantamount to an “open mic night.”
“Even if you are producing something within the advertising and marketing industry, it’s nice to know you can get someone who is a magician who specializes in the psychology of tricking people,” says Goodwin, adding, “And while they won’t speak about advertising per se, they are going to be an interesting and thought-provoking speaker, someone who is entertaining and mesmerizing.
“This is not people who have written a book and have a stock presentation. They are people who have a passion and a knowledge and they fit it for different events.”