After short stints in sales and HR in his early twenties working for "the man," he soon realized he wasn't content to work for others. Since then, he has yet to get sick and tired of his boss--his 41 year old self--but he is indeed sick and tired of a lot of other things.
So he talks about it. Or, rather, yells about it. A lot.
Stratten is one of the hottest keynote speakers in the country, and has a show called "The UnPodcast: The Business Podcast for the Fed-Up". On the show and on stage, Stratten rails on what not to do in the world of marketing and sales--and people are listening.
Stratten cleared $1 million dollars last year by giving keynotes, more than once a week on average, at $20,000 per--and he's not even an ex-POTUS.
For perspective, the National Speakers Association considers its members to be full-fledged professional speakers once they hit $25,000 in speaking revenue annually.
That's a good week for Stratten.
I saw Stratten give the keynote speech at a convention for keynote speakers. (No pressure there.) The guy's a skilled talker. But I learned that the real secret to his success lies beyond his gift of gab.
First, Stratten has zigged with his "brand positioning" when everyone else has zagged.
His choice to laser in on what you shouldn't do has enabled him to carve out a niche.
He's also kept his business model intensely focused on his skill at speaking to live audiences. His podcast serves as an engaging commercial for his speaking, and even his books are written as platforms to help Stratten get more speaking gigs. So.....
Second, his choice to focus on doing one thing allows him to do that one thing really well.
He pours all his energy into perfecting his craft and avoids chasing all the other revenue streams that would just suck up his time and distract him from the core of his business model.
As Stratten told me: "I have two responsibilities. Kill it on stage for my client and stay on top of my industry so I can speak intelligently."
And as outspoken as Stratten is, the result of his focused business model is the one thing that speaks for itself.
Focusing your model matters.
Third, he's careful to avoid the endless pursuit of more.
Stratten told me the need to resist the endless striving for what's next is "the most important piece of advice I can offer a fellow entrepreneur."
Stratten was in Frankfort, Germany with a client, enjoying a schnitzel dinner, when someone asked him, with an arm pointing upward like an arrow, "So, what's next?" Stratten looked the person dead in the eye and said, "There is no next. I'm already there."
Stratten's centeredness and focused take on a business model allows him to do what he loves most, with plenty of income. It also enables him to prioritize time with his wife and 5 children and better achieve balance.
Now, like any good success story, the journey hasn't been all standing ovations.
Stratten has the dubious distinction of nearly going financially bankrupt in his entrepreneurial pursuits, twice.
Once, right after September 11, 2001, Stratten's fledgling business took a major hit (companies weren't in the mood to bring in speakers), and then did so again during the the financial crisis in 2008. On both counts, Stratten had to scrape to get by, sometimes with as little as 64 cents in his bank account.
Which leads us to...
Fourth, with his bank reserves down, he drew on his reserve of self-belief.
In speaker parlance this can show up most commonly as what Stratten calls "Imposter Syndrome--when people start believing they have no right to be up there on stage."
Your belief must never waiver that you have a right to be on whatever your stage is. To help on this front, pay attention to when your self-talk turns negative, avoid toxic people, and stop catastrophizing things.
Not only does Stratten subscribe to self-belief, he subscribes to self-education. Which brings us to the final lesson.
Fifth, he invests in self-education every day to stay relevant. And you should too.
Stratten jokes that he speaks because he doesn't like to work, but in truth, he works like a fiend on consuming content that will inform his point of view about his field. He never wants to be in a position where what he has to say no longer matters.
Continual learning keeps him from irrelevancy.
Not to be confused with Stratten's story, which is anything but irrelevant. In fact, his story of success through speaking can speak to us all.