World of Speakers E.102: Gordon Bufton | The Coin Flip Strength

33 min readMay 13, 2022


Ryan Foland speaks with Gordon Bufton, who is a creator, serial entrepreneur, humanitarian, explorer, and founder of

In this episode of our podcast series, Ryan and Gordon talk about being able to make decisions that serve your speaking career.

One of the key messages in this discussion is how to bring value to your audience by connecting with them, and whenever you give a speech, make sure you give the best speech that you can in that moment.

Tune in for an interview full of ideas and tips on making decisions, giving a speech, and being successful in your speaking career.

Listen to the interview on iTunes or Soundcloud.

Subscribe to World of Speakers on iTunes or Soundcloud.


Ryan Foland: Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the World of Speakers.

This is where we search the world for people who are doing really cool things using their voice and we bring them here on the show so we can learn about them, we can learn from them, and then we can help what they’ve done to help accelerate our speaking career.

Today we have somebody who is not only humanitarian, he’s somebody who’s traveled the world, he’s somebody who has a rich life experience that sometimes is scary to really look at the dark side of life but he’s used that as a catalyst to help people find their purpose, to find what really gets them going.

And so today I’m excited to have Gordon Bufton who I’ve met quite a few times and I’ve followed his travels around the world.

We’re yet to share the stage but technically this is a stage that we’re sharing. So welcome to the World of Speakers, Gordon.

Gordon Bufton: I appreciate it, Ryan, it’s going to be a fun conversation.

I admire your scuba diving and all the sailing even though I was in San Diego we didn’t get to go sail.

Ryan Foland: I think a big part of what helps me as a speaker is that I don’t only speak.

I scuba dive, I hunt for lobsters, I sail, I hang out, I walk.

Speakers are real people too, and I think that one thing that has helped me connect with my audience is that I’m not just a speaker.

And so you’re not just the speaker, you got all kinds of cool stuff going on.

To help the audience learn a little bit about you from the vignette story, can you pull a story off the shelf, like imagine all of the old DVDs you have, and like the one DVD that was the one story that one time that really shaped you, what would that story be and that’ll allow us to get to know you a little bit.

Gordon Bufton: There are so many stories, Ryan, thank you.

Let me pull one, do you want to give me just a little bit more specific of a topic for your audience?

Ryan Foland: Yes, so if you think back to a story that shaped you, it doesn’t have to be speaker oriented, it can be something from your past, it can be a crazy trip that went wrong, it could be literally you tripping and falling and that led to a cascading event of something.

I would say that the threshold is to look at the DVDs of your life and pull out a certain DVD and then there’s some special, what is that, a special feature right, like the director’s cut, what is a little behind the scenes on the story, something that stands out that you’re like,

“Wow, I’m a different person.”

Gordon Bufton: One that really stands out and most of my friends are like, “You did what,” was kind of as much as it’s such an interesting story.

During COVID, I was actually in Europe after spending most of my life in the States having a green card and I was in Europe and I had this decision of either to fly back to the States or stay in Europe.

I remember at the time I was growing a mastermind so I was doing it remotely and the thought goes through my head of,

“Oh, this is just going to be a couple of weeks, let me just stay in Europe.”

And so I canceled my tickets back to the States and stayed in Europe.

Obviously, as the whole world was shutting down and we had to move that mastermind from in-person events to online events which we were fortunate enough to be able to do, is do I go back or stay, in like every month like the place I was staying with one of my mentors in Portugal was like,

“Can I stay another month, can I stay another month, can I stay another month?”

Finally, after 8 months there I’d left and you’re only kind of supposed to stay in Europe for 3 months, but I’d gone to Morocco.

I just kind of stayed in Europe and then at the end of August I was going Google, “Best places in Europe August,” and Croatia was number one, which I know you’ve been to, Ryan, and Greece was number 2.

I go, “I’ve always wanted to go to Greece,” so I went to Greece, and I stayed in Athens for a month working remote and the whole city was shut down so I had the city to myself, restaurants to myself, and got to experience one of the best places in the world with nobody there.

Then I went to the Greek islands for a couple of months and traveled, I actually went I don’t know if it was like a sailboat but it was definitely a boat off of Santorini and we went to the hot springs and watched the sunset and just got to experience one of the best places in the world when not many tourists were there.

I’m going to Sweden and spending the winter in Sweden, and just like continue traveling and doing things when most of the world was shut down and freaking out and so it was always interesting.

I had a Canadian passport so I could continue traveling and go to these places and then finally came back to the States for a couple of weeks at the beginning of 2021 and then went to South America.

I have continued this, just traveling and exploring and working remotely.

And so I think one of the things that for the audience is, “What you want to do — do.”

Even if be able to think for yourself and even if the world is like doing one thing, it’s like, “Am I safe, am I healthy, am I able to do this, okay let’s do it.”

And just be smart about it.

Ryan Foland: Should you stay or should you go now… this is the struggle that we all have, especially in a pandemic now.

Is that the way you’ve always run your life is just like sort of off the cuff and sort of these whimsical decisions that you’re choosing between, would you say, I’m making like a philosophical guess here, maybe psychological guess, if you have this like the juxtaposition between structure or like the unknown, which maybe has a little bit unstructured, have you been writing those rails your whole life between structure and unstructure?

Gordon Bufton: Yes and then like I do really well as a structure then I’m like, “Let me move this structure, I’ll have a company for 6 months,” and I’m like, “I’ll do something else.”

And so it’s been really- another short story was this was like, god, it must have been, I posted my first book when I was 25 so I think I was 24 and I’ve been working, this valley at a hotel, running the valley crew.

It wasn’t working anymore like I was over, it was time to go onto the next thing and I was speaking during the day in schools are then park cars at night, so I was able to do both.

I was living in Scottsdale and I was out for lunch with a friend and I go,

“You know what, I don’t know, I think I’m over Scottsdale for the summer, I might go to live with one of my friends in Cincinnati.”

I couldn’t make this decision so I flipped a coin.

Ryan Foland: You actually flipped a coin? This is the Gordon coin slip, okay.

Gordon Bufton: Yeah. So heads I go to Cincinnati for the summer and tails I stay Scottsdale.

I flipped the coin and it was heads so I went to Cincinnati for the summer and I was living with my friend who was 3 to 6 months pregnant so I was able to help her, she was having an interesting relationship with the baby’s dad.

And I remember reading, I am not married or have any kids myself, but I remember reading “What to expect when expecting,” always being a week ahead and just like super enamored by this process.

I want to have kids but I never thought I would learn anything about it until I had my own kids.

So we opened up a nonprofit and I worked on my book at night and that really allowed me to finish publishing my book it was one of the best summers of my life because of a coin flip.

Ryan Foland: Okay, it reminds me, I have a buddy that had a coin, that was a gold coin and it said, “Do it or screw it” one side or the other, so we get to these decision points, and I haven’t thought about this awhile but you reminded me of it.

It would be like, “What should we do, I don’t know,” and it’s like either decision is going to work right?

But the problem is if you don’t make a decision that’s where you get in trouble.

And so we would flip the “Do it or screw it” and we would just live by the coin.

I think what’s really interesting here as you’re sharing this as somebody who is a speaker who travels around the world, there are moments in life where we have this coin flip decision, whether it’s to a pandemic, whether it’s to move out of the state, whether it’s to start or stop your business or whether it’s to take that stage or not.

I think there is an amount of comfort that comes in your ability to make decisions.

I think as a speaker sometimes we’re pulled in so many ways.

“Well I should speak about this, that’s what everybody else is speaking about.”

“The people that are getting paid the big bucks they’re speaking about that, maybe I should do this.”

So do you feel that your strength, whether it’s a coin flip strength or whether it’s an off-the-cuff strength, whether it’s the fact that when you’re faced with a decision you actually make a decision?

Is that a key part of what makes you a successful speaker?

Gordon Bufton: Yeah, that’s been one of the keys to my success over the years, is being able to make decisions.

And it’s really easy to go back.

Some of the decisions I made recently have been really analyzing them and thinking through what I could have done differently or how they could have been more successful.

The piece was, and I love this framework, one of my speaking mentors and I can’t remember who it was, I want to say it was like Brian Tracy or something, and he goes, I was at an NSA, we had 50 people in the room and he goes,

“Whenever you give a speech, you give the best speech that you can in a moment. And then when you get done, yes you can analyze it, but you can’t change it.”

At that moment, I made the best decision that I had with the information that I had.

Now a couple of months later I have new information, so I might have made a different decision, but just to know like with the information I had I made the best decision I had and now I’m able to move forward and make a different decision or make the same decision, or you know continue going forward which is so vital and it’s easy to be on the side bus.

Ryan Foland: Yeah and I think we’ve all faced a pandemic story version, whether it’s staying in Europe or going home or whether it’s continuing to try to get bullish on digital adoption or keep your fees at the same height or work within different ways or spread yourself to where you’re counteracting the market.

So I think that we all have dealt with a lot of uncertainty.

I think this idea of the ability to make a decision and do your best is like can you do more than your best- no because that’s the best you can do at that moment.

So there’s a great transition into your approach when it comes to crafting your talks or giving your talks, you kind of gave us a little bit of insight there as far as like your mental processes to just do the best that you can, given that experience.

So how do you go about that?

Because that could be uneasy for certain people that need that structure, that need to have that fully mapped out keynote to know exactly what they’re going to do.

How do you speak to the people that are used to the structure and how can you empower them with this I guess is it the coin flip dance between structure and unstructure, which sort of is its own structure?

Gordon Bufton: I would say from my experience if it is working keep doing it.

And if having a structured speech is working really well for you, keep doing it.


Explore that.

I know for me, I usually have a couple of bullet points, right.

I learned this from another speaker- the audience is most likely unless you’re a big celebrity speaker, they’re not going to remember your name.

They are not going to remember the title of your book; they’re not going to remember every single story that you tell.

They’re probably not going to remember any of your stores.

Ryan Foland: Truth, truth serum. Plug your ears if you don’t want to hear it.

Gordon Bufton: One of my things is like what’s one concept they can come away with?

And my latest book is called the “Connection of fact” and if my audience only remembers “connection” and goes and connects better with their daughter or connects better with their partner, or connects better with their employees, that’s been a success.

They don’t have to tweet about 4000 tweets like Ryan does on a daily basis, they don’t have to buy my book.

If you just remember one thing it’s been a success.

And the other aspect is like taking action on it.

So if you’re listening to this now, it’s like how can you reach out to one person and text one person today, how can you make one phone call today, send one email, one LinkedIn message, one whatever, just one.

And it reminds one that you’re thinking of them or that you love them, or that you’re thinking about them or you’ve read an article and this reminded me of such and such.

When I was traveling Europe, one of my closest friends, his company logo is an owl so I would be in Europe and there would be an owl on like a billboard, and I would take a photo of it and text it to them. That’s it.

And now he’s like, “Oh man, Gordon’s thinking about me.”

Ryan Foland: So this is funny, you have an interesting similar piece of advice that my mom has always given me, and we’ll see how close this is, but as I’ve worked towards gaining more traction as a speaker, you have to understand that actually throughout the entire way the audience isn’t always there that you’d expect; you show up, you’re ready for a full crowd and then go to the conference and a breakout room and you have like sparse people and a huge audience of empty seats and like you still have to give your best performance, right.

But she always reminds me,

“Ryan it only takes one. It only takes one person being impacted. It only takes one person having something that they remember that changes their life.”

And you’re saying something similar, but it’s like you’re saying just make sure they have one takeaway.

So it’s like if you and my mom got together it would be something like the one by one like it only takes one person and it only takes one message and that can be something that is powerful enough to justify why you’re doing it in the first place.

Gordon Bufton: And we have big goals, so maybe 10, we’ll just pull like a 0, right, numerology, we don’t necessarily use 0.

But no, it’s the same thing, right, and I used to always say my speeches if just one person- I’ve done a lot of speaking on substance abuse and addiction, it just one person doesn’t even like they still use but they think differently about it and they know, like a core message from mine for many years when I was speaking in schools and universities was it just takes one bad decision to forever destroy your dreams.

One bad decision on alcohol, one decision with the ecstasy, whatever that looks like, can forever change your dreams and your life.

But just know that, and if you know that going in, and you still make the decision and you still live that, you at least knew and I was kind of like from my story is, I didn’t know if I tried ecstasy I would be addicted to it, I had no idea.

And to be able to educate people on those one thing of what’s the one thing, what’s the one thing we want our audience to remember, what’s the 1 actual takeaway?

And that’s what we’re talking about before we jumped on of going to events and taking notes.

Like, how many speakers have we gone to and taken notes and didn’t do anything?

Ryan Foland: So when you’re crafting the talk around this concept there is just 1 core thing.

Is there anything structurally that you do?

Do you do the classic, “I’m going to tell you what I’m going to tell you, then I’m going to tell you, then I’m going to tell you what I told you.”

Are you using a trigger phrase, like with Simon Sinek, where “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it?”

In his talk, he said it like 7, 8, 9, 10 times. Is there anything that you find that works to reinforce this 1 message concept?

Gordon Bufton: I would say like having the stories around connection and now most of the speech is built around the connection.

And so like you literally, if you walk out and you’re not thinking about connections I totally failed but it’s almost impossible.

Because we talk about connection within relationships, we talk about the connection with your work, we talk about connections with workaholism.

A lot of my groups have been entrepreneur groups over the years and they’re always trying to improve their relationships, they’re always trying to improve their relationships with their employees, with customers.

So it all goes back to the connection which I believe business is a connection, life is a connection, all that we do is, we first have to connect with ourselves.

Ryan Foland: Now, because you have done so much traveling throughout as you’re speaking, not only traveling for speaking but just traveling and getting away- tell me about your process and finding these vignette stories or finding things about your travels and incorporating them.

I know enough talk to speakers when they go to an event say internationally, they’ll go out there like a week early and they’ll do that so they can immerse themselves and they can find experiences so that they have places to relate.

Is that part of how you craft where your content is constantly growing even though that same core message is still always the same?

Gordon Bufton: It really depends on the situation or the country.

As you’re saying I was like, “God, how many countries have I either like hosted a mastermind dinner in or spoken at”.

I think it’s like 12 or 14 now or done like a paid speech. It’s interesting depending on the language, most of my groups, it’s always English.

And if you go anywhere other than the States like people speak 5 languages like it’s nothing, especially in Europe.

But just to be able to, like I love engaging with the audience, getting there a little bit early and talking to the audience, whether it’s engaging with the person booking it or whether it’s calling a couple of people before you come out to the speech.

And another aspect of the story is that I just have a Google doc of different stories and short stories to be able to pull from.

One of them was I was in Portugal, I was there with a friend and we were looking for a candle.

And we go to this one store they don’t have any candles, they are like, “Oh, there’s a Chinese store around the corner, just go to the Chinese store.”

We’re like, “Okay,” so we’re walking over there and we can’t find it, and we talk to this guy and he’s like,

“Oh yeah the Chinese store is right over there across the street but it burned down yesterday, you should go there.”

And he’s like, “Oh wait, it burned out.”

So then we go there to just like see this burned down building and a police officer is there and we go, “Hey where we get a candle?”

And he’s like, “Right over there, there’s a China store,” and he’s like, “Oh wait, but it burned down yesterday.”

So like that’s an example of not knowing the language, being able to connect with people and them knowing this thing burned down but they also didn’t know, they also forgot.

So there’s humor in that and what are you going to do to get a candle?

So we finally got a candle, not from the China store because they all burned.

Ryan Foland: Yeah, I was going to say the candles from that place probably are not the safest candles to leave burning alone in your house, if that’s the case.

Gordon Bufton: I know, that’s more of an adventure too, right, when you have to make more split decisions.

Ryan Foland: So this idea of split decisions, this idea of connection, this idea of flipping a coin, this idea of certainty and uncertainty.

It sounds like the genesis for a lot of new material constantly but what I’m hearing is that no matter what new stories, what new analogies, what new things are on this Google doc it keeps coming back to that one focus.

So as you’re telling these stories you still mentioned that that story has to do with connection, and this other story has to do with connection.

So do you find stories and then find your topic in them?

Or do you look for stories that are centered around your topic?

Gordon Bufton: Almost like a third of my brain is just wired for connection, so I’m just always looking for it.

And whether it’s how do I better connect with the person at the grocery store, how do I better connect with you Ryan, right, like we’re going to talk about on this podcast whatever those bears are.

Ryan Foland: You might be referring to my first TEDx Talk because I talked about how to not get chased by a bear.

Gordon Bufton: No, no, not that, the bears that are at the bottom of the ocean that are like super micro-

Ryan Foland: Ah, the water bears?

Gordon Bufton: See, water bears.

Ryan Foland: Yes.

Gordon Bufton: Right?

Ryan Foland: Okay, wait. So does anybody here listening know about water bears?

If you don’t, Google water bears.

They are little 6-legged pigs that are microscopic, that are the most inspiring living beings on the history of the earth because they have outlived all 5 mass extinctions and they are the epitome of resilience.

Yes, water bears, I love water bears.

Gordon Bufton: See? I know Ryan loves water bears, so in preparation for this podcast I’m like,

“Okay, what are some of the things that I could bring up that will allow me to better connect with Ryan- sailing, water bears.”

I don’t have red hair but we both have a beard.

Ryan Foland: You mentioned scuba diving.

You looked at my Twitter, all the stuff. So I see you’re being sneaky about this, you’re setting me up for connection instead of setting me up for success or setting me up for failure, you’re setting me up for connection.

And obviously, I get really excited about water bears, I haven’t talked about water bears in a while.

So I was on my little stump stage about water bears right there, I was super excited, everybody google water bears.

But I mean that’s just kind of proof in the pudding of when you’re connecting with people about things that they’re excited about, then it gets them excited. I just got excited.

Gordon Bufton: I mean, this is a simple book, one of the books that changed my life at I guess I was 25 reading this book, “How to win friends and influence people”

Ryan Foland: Oh, yeah.

Gordon Bufton: Dale Carnegie.

Talk about what people want to talk about and get interested in other people, right, and then it’s easy to be in a single-person narrative of,

“Oh men, I want to talk about this, I want to talk about that.”

Like, “I watched the masters this week, I know you’re not a golfer we’re not going to bring up the masters.”

Ryan Foland: I did hit golf balls last week though, I’m not a good golfer, but I do like to golf because it’s so challenging.

So now you’ve just by sharing something that you didn’t think I was connected to, you actually discovered something else that I was connected to, a loose connection.

And this is actually a really good transition to how you connect with stages, how you connect with more business opportunities, how you have found making a business speaking in front of a group of people that is a small mastermind group, right.

I said my mom said, “It only takes 1”, you said, “Let’s go to 10.”

10 is kind of like good for a mastermind, you’re speaking to them, that’s a whole different type of stage.

So what would you say are some of the best ways to connect business success when it comes to speaking?

And I’m leaving the door open because it’s not just all about getting through stages.

You’re proving here that it’s about these relationships that can cause opportunities.

So on the theme of your new book around connecting, how do I, how do we as a world of speakers connect to more stages?

Does that mean we have to connect with the meeting planners, do we have to connect with companies, and do we have to connect to the CEOs?

Break that down for us in a simple way, we know it’s not easy but what is the simplest way to connect to more business?

Gordon Bufton: First thing that comes to mind is in person.

So many of my speaker friends go, “If you’re on stages, you’re going to book more speeches. And then you’re going to have content.”

And going there and being on the plane, and doing this so just being in person.

For me, I remember early on at the same Brian Tracy speech, I somehow remembered his name and I remembered 2 things from his speech, where he goes, “If you are going to be calling people and asking for money it won’t work.”

And so when my speaking career was the most successful many years ago before I transitioned to mastermind, it was 2 hours a day of outreach of people that I’ve met at speeches, people who I knew were booking speeches and this is where you know our mutual friend Jeff does a really good job and having assistance do the outreach for him, his how do I reach out to these people, is it on LinkedIn, is email, is it phone calls, is it post mail, is it gifts, is it in person, and just being consistent, is the main thing.

And I know there are times where I’ve been more consistent and then there are times where I’m not, and there are times where I am.

I can definitely relate to the income that I have. Am I doing the things every single day?

And now to be able to speak on stages and more leading it to masterminds and small groups, I really believe and we’re doing a lot of work on this in Miami is people are craving community right now, they’re craving connection, they’re craving these in-person experiences, whether it’s 5000 people at an event or 5 people.

Some of my most successful dinners have been with 4, or 5 people.

Ryan Foland: You’re literally explaining how to connect with people by reminding us that people like to connect in person, so you’re literally tapping into it’s almost like the question is the answer, right, how do you want to connect with people- well, you connect with people, because people are craving connection, they’re craving community, they’ve been in I wouldn’t say lockdown but we have been locked down whether we have or haven’t.

So does that mean, so if I was a speaker and I wanted to gain traction in the sort of uncertain world, I flip the coin and I get to do it, now’s the time to do it?

What are some of the specific things that you would start with, knowing that we’re in this world now?

Gordon Bufton: Yeah. I think the first thing is, and this is a strategy that one of my peers gave me many years ago, is to find speakers who have similar topics and similar fees or a little bit higher, so you’re not looking at Simon Sinek, right, who is making $750 000 a speech when you’re making $5000 a speech or $10000 a speech.

But you go on their websites and you see who their testimonials are from.

And you connect to those people because you know they’re booking speakers, they are going to events with speakers and they have budgets for speakers.

And just connect with them. I know a lot of speakers send books, but I also try to, I don’t want to give you work, I want to make your life easier.

I’m always thinking about like how to deliver value for somebody who’s hosting an event.

I know some of the issues that they have and think through the problems; they need to hire speakers, they need to get people, they need to get sponsors and so if I can help with any of those pieces is valuable.

So a lot of times when I was super ingrained in the speaking world is just reaching out and be like, “Hey, my friend Ryan is an amazing speaker you should have him at your next event.”

Or, “My friend Shep Hyken is really good at customer service, I know you have high-end speakers that might be a perfect fit.”

“Okay, great.”

Ryan Foland: You’re actually bringing value to them by suggesting other people while still getting on their radar not being too self-promotional or trying to pitch your own wares.

Gordon Bufton: Yes, and just be able to create value for these people and think through what their problems are.

I remember we’d always usually be the first at the venue and one of the last people to leave.

Why? Because a lot of speakers have been known to be primadonnas and they show up just in time and they leave just at the end, but how do I deliver more value to the audience?

How do I go to the dinners, how do I go to the breakfast, how do I be engaged in the audience?

Ryan Foland: And with your move to masterminds, because my understanding of masterminds, the people are kind of getting together to add value to each other, so is that truly kind of the core of it to where your group sourcing, group thinking, using everyone’s experiences together essentially providing value to each other based on experiences?

Is that the gist of it?

Gordon Bufton: Yeah, I mean that’s the main thing is how do we, what we were talking about earlier, how do I learn from you?

How do I see, you know like if I wanted to sail or go sail the Greek islands who do you think I’m going to call?

Ryan Foland: Let’s go, let’s go.

Gordon Bufton: Right, I’m not going to go on Google, I’m going to go through my Rolodex of who do I know who sails.

My other friend who is in Boston for many years. Well, when we spoke at his EO chapter, you would love this, Ryan, so we spoke in Rhode Island, it was a Boston chapter and they did a day trip down to Rhode Island so we worked with families and kids and parents helping them better connect and then the afternoon we went sailing on the old, oh my god, what was it, America’s Cup?

Ryan Foland: America’s Cup, yeah.

Gordon Bufton: Yeah, like the boats are from the 1970s, and so we got to sail these old boats from America’s Cups that were winning and I had no idea what I was doing, but it was fun.

So I’m out there and like a button-down in slacks and dress shoes, spinning and that’s an experience that I was able to have with a handful of people, you stay in contact with those people, you continue reaching out to those people, but that’s one of my few sailing experiences.

Ryan Foland: So it sounds like not only is one half of the strategy to find the value that you can deliver to people, but it’s also finding people who can bring value to you.

And it takes a bit of humility and a bit of just like leaving your ego at the door to say, “Hey, I need help with this,” or, “Hey, I see that you’re doing well with this.”

So it sounds like there’s a dual strategy of connection where the premise of the connection on one level can be, “Hey, I think I can bring value to you.”

But it also seems like you’re the first guy to say, “Hey, I need some help, and can you help bring value to me,” and that truly are those the 2 sides of connection that really make that go around?

Gordon Bufton: 100%. One of my mentors I was helping him train for a marathon and we were out for a run and I just got done with Ironman, I did Ironman in 2016 and this is not 1 of my proudest moments.

I remember finishing the race and getting in the top 10%, was my only triathlon in my life and I just crushed it, amazing day, amazing race, 18 months of travel.

And that night, Ryan, I go, “What is the next thing I want to become world-class?”

I couldn’t even relish in the success of that moment, the journey, it was always onto the next thing, and this was 1 of my biggest lessons. It has been

“Enjoy the process, not necessarily the destination”.

And so I was out on a training run like really thinking through what I want to become world-class at, and he goes, “Gordon, why you do what you do?”

And I go, “Tell people.”

He goes, “Why do you think I do what I do? To help people.”

Well if you don’t ask me for help I can’t help you, therefore you’re depriving me of that feel-good response.

Ryan Foland: Okay, so you’re sort of tapping into something that inherently a lot of us think that if we’re asking for help maybe it’s an actual ask and it’s something that’s really just for us.

But that story highlights that when you actually do ask for help if you asked me when you’re in town, in LA you want to learn how to sail, that opens up the opportunity for me to do what I love to do to share that with you.

I think this is what could help some people get over that hump of trying to connect, right.

I think there’s a lot of fear if you’re trying to reach out to spark some business it’s a little intimidating to reach out to people on LinkedIn you haven’t seen in a while or to send an owl to an old friend, his logo is an owl, but what you’re saying is that by the mere act of reaching out it could be one of the values providing like,

“Hey, I saw this I thought about you, I read this I thought about you, I watched this video I thought about you. I had a conversation with somebody I thought about you.”

That said initial instigation to connect with them but then whether it’s that or once you connect with them you can also share, be vulnerable and say,

“Hey, I see that you’ve got success over there doing that, I can see from afar, how’s it working for you and how would somebody like me tap into that?”

It’s not that you’re really asking for anything, you’re empowering them to share and do what they’re all about, right?

So by trying to connect with somebody, you’re allowing that person to do what they love to do or to share what they love to do which is less intimidating, right?

Gordon Bufton: Yeah 100%.

And it’s always like a give/ take thing.

And as I mentioned earlier, I want to make their life easier it’s not like,

“Hey Ryan, give me your 100 steps to sailing and like I need to go find me and buy, negotiate a boat that I can buy.”

Ryan Foland: Yeah, you’re like tell me what boat to buy by the end of day tomorrow or else.

Gordon Bufton: Being able to have mentors or specific people in certain domains.

I’m not going to go to my friend Joe who sold 7 different companies and ask him about relationship advice when he’s never been married.

Or I’m not going to go to my friend who’s had 5 divorces, maybe actually I will because he’s obviously learned a lot within relationships, but to be able to know the specific things.

And many years ago, I was fortunate enough to do remit safety course and he’s like, is it a $3 question or a $30000 question? $3 questions can be found on Google right, like you said, go Google water bear.

Ryan Foland: Yeah.

Gordon Bufton: You will find out the basics, but if you get like really deep into it you’re going to have to call Ryan or a researcher to learn about more of the color or the specific aspect, but you can find a basic aspect.

But be prepared to come in, have thought through some questions, have thought through some things, just have a genuine interest in one of the things that especially speakers we love teaching stuff.

So how do you get into somebody’s domain where you know they’re the expert, and to be able to as you mentioned, Ryan, be vulnerable enough to ask.

And one of the things, one of my friends always tells me- if you don’t ask it’s already a no. So what’s the worst thing that’s going to happen is you’re going to get another no.

Ryan Foland: Right.

Never ask never get.

I like that one too.

Like, what are you going to lose, right?

Never ask never get.

Gordon Bufton: And also like an additional strategy is like giving people way out 2 of like an email signature, like,

“Hey I understand if you’re too busy to respond.”

Ryan Foland: So it takes the pressure off of forcing that connection, or feeling like you’re forcing that connection.

Gordon Bufton: Right.

Ryan Foland: Okay, so we talked about a lot of stuff, and if I go back to your original story about being stuck in a position where you have to make a decision.

I feel like a lot of speakers are stuck, not necessarily in Europe whether they have to come back here to the US because of the pandemic, but they might be stuck where they’re at, they haven’t gotten a gig in a while or they’re not getting the fees that they used to, or they haven’t fully taken the jump to really own the digital space if that’s what they want.

And so this idea of being stuck, the worst thing you can do is not make a decision and as we’re talking about could be as easy as flipping a coin or it could be as easy as your best effort, but the goal here is that taking that step forward, making that decision, you will then learn retroactively what you could have done better but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have made that decision.

So it’s like making the decision and I see this parallel between a decision making, it’s almost the same as connecting.

And so the one thing that can get you onto a stage probably relatively quickly is through some sort of connection and if you’re not making connections, if you’re not actively outreaching every day, then you only have yourself to blame.

And so for those people who are on the fence and they are literally maybe the same traction they’ve had for the last 2 years just because everything or even worse, right, like they’re falling off the fence, speak to them about motivating them to use connection as a way to get back into the game, for those that need us to help push them up onto the fence so they can jump.

What is sort of your final words of inspiration, the person who knows about connection, the person that makes the split decisions that can be 8 of a result but they just do it by the seat of the pants how do you get people to connect more to make these decisions, to make these connections?

They’re listening, they’re like, “What is he going to say?”

Gordon Bufton: Just give up.

Ryan Foland: Okay so we use humor, this is good.

Gordon Bufton: No, it’s one of those aspects that we really need to connect with ourselves; is there emotional block, is there fear, is there stress, when you have to be on the road more and you have kids but you really want to be with kids and you want to do this kind of for your ego.

And so I would say it’s really important to connect with yourself.

Ryan Foland: So getting on the fence is first to connect with yourself, I like that. Because I think people get stuck to connect out to other people and I like that reminder of connection first.

Gordon Bufton: Yeah, we must connect with ourselves and really like get true to the core.

And then the other aspect is we all have a gift to share, as we mentioned earlier, what if that one audience member I believe most speakers, whatever has been their biggest transformation is usually what they speak on, one of their biggest experiences our pain, and they’re able to share that and just really think through the experience of the audience member, like the emails and the phone calls and texts from people that I was able to either help get sober or help them transform the relationship with connection and be able to be like, “Hey why are you doing what you do”.

Do you want people to be able to experience that?

And then one of the other aspects that one of my coaches has told me many times over the years is that humans want to get the most out of life with a little amount of effort.

Simple human conditioning.

And so we want to get that $100 000 speaking fee but we’re not willing to put in 2 hours a day at outreach.

Or we want to have that perfect body but we’re not able to go to the gym.

There’s a disconnect.

And so to be able to really connect with ourselves and be able to really think through why do I want to do this.

And when you get in alignment with that, I mean, the sky’s the limit and obviously, you’ve seen in your work of working with kids and startups is- I was able to see the passion that you have been able to come in and reenergize the entrepreneur program because you know there’s going to be kids that you’re going to be able to impact that are going to create big companies that change the future.

Ryan Foland: Yeah and now I have to connect with myself in order to even help them make those connections, in order to connect further.

So it’s like a triple connect, you’re connecting with yourself, you’re connecting with your potential audience and you’re connecting with the people that help you get in front of that audience.

And so whether it’s flip a coin, whether it’s just go with your gut, whether it’s just something, the best thing you can do right now for yourself is to make a decision, make a decision to connect with yourself, make a decision of why it is that you want to connect with an audience and then make a decision to connect with the people who can get you there.

So I think that’s good, it sounds like you’re ready to write a book on connections, so tell us about that, tell us about how we can get in touch with you, tell us about how we can follow you and find you and then cyberstalk you and harass you and then fall in love with you and then buy all of your stuff and then be friends forever.

Gordon Bufton: Only if there are water bears involved.

The easiest and most responsive is email.

Email me at gb@genius I don’t even know if I could spell it.

Ryan Foland: Yeah, that’s a hard one.

Gordon Bufton: GB @ is the best way. On Instagram Gordon Bufton 8.

Ryan Foland: All right because one of the people that you need to connect with if you’re listening here is the guy who talks about connection because you could probably help to spread the connection, like the connection multiplier, the connection network maybe I’ll say.

Gordon Bufton: And then I also wrote the connection of fact and entrepreneurs playbook to unlock in the present moment a couple of years ago so that was really an amazing project you can find that on Amazon or Barnes and

And yeah, just really reach out, let’s start the conversation, I’m happy to help, support speakers or people writing books, or just doing really, really cool things.

Ryan Foland: Or if you want to join a mastermind and use that as a place to help you connect with yourself and have a supportive environment for others.

I look forward to jumping on one of those trains with you as well because the power of proximity and the people who you connect with is directly related to your success so good on you for helping to connect people.

Gordon Bufton: Now it’s been a fun journey, entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster which is life and we have to keep making decisions as we talked about and keep connecting.

Ryan Foland: And remember, where there’s a story there’s one single lesson you can teach people and they can all package into a workshop or keynote or a pocket talk or something like that.

So there are tons of stories out there, there are tons of messages, and there are tons of people to connect with but decide who you want to connect with, and the one thing you want to get across so that my mom will be happy that you make a difference to just one person.

Thanks for your time here today Gordon, I’m excited to continue to follow your adventures around the world.

Gordon Bufton: I appreciate it, Ryan. Thanks for having me and remember, it’s all about connections.

Ryan Foland: It just takes one, and they just need to remember that one thing.

So ask yourself what was the one thing you remembered about this show, what stuck out?

You might not remember Gordon’s name, you might not remember me, you might not remember anything, but hopefully, there is one thing that you remember and that’s what I challenge you to share with somebody else.

And if you don’t even know that then just share this podcast with somebody else.

And if this is your first time listening, become a subscriber.

And if you are not following me or you don’t know who I am, I’m easy to find online, you just go to

And if you are a speaker and you don’t have a website and you don’t know how to find gigs and you’re really at square 0, which I don’t know if there’s a square 0 but there’s now a square 0, you can go to where you can build your own speaking profile.

There’s an engine to search for, Call for speakers.

You can connect with the speaker community, you can get involved with their newsletter, and get all kinds of tips and tricks because this wheel has been created, it’s just a matter of what type of vehicle you want to build and how fast and how far you want to go.

So we’ll see you online at, make sure to support our sponsor SpeakerHub and other than that, Gordon, peace out.

A bit about World of Speakers

World of Speakers is a bi-weekly podcast that helps people find their own voice, and teaches them how to use their voice to develop a speaking business.

Connect with Gordon Bufton:

This was originally posted on SpeakerHub Skillcamp.




Find the perfect speaker, easily