Brian Palmer is the Senior Vice President at National Speakers Bureau where for 40 years he’s helped event owners produce their desired results through securing effective speakers. Palmer chaired the National Speakers Association/International Association of Speakers Bureaus Joint Task Force for several years, charged with developing the relationship between professional speakers and speakers bureaus.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

We had one of the smallest houses in Glencoe, Illinois which is often on lists of the great towns in the United States. I thought it was special to live along the tracks! The schools are famously excellent.

Our water heater needed to be replaced and on that day ten year old me was left behind to receive the plumber. My dad had said he wanted our new water heater to be bigger than the existing one so it would not run out so fast. They took out the old one and it sat on the driveway next to the new one and I noticed they were the exact same size. I told the plumber of my dad’s preference and he asked if I was sure. When I said yes he boxed the new one up, left, and returned an hour later with one that was bigger.

I recognised the importance of speaking up.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

That I should put more effort into satisfying myself and my wants instead of being so oriented toward supporting others.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

That a speech should only last thirty minutes. That underestimates your audience.

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

I was 14 when my 11-year-old brother Marc was diagnosed with a then fatal form of leukemia. He slowly withered and died the day after a fun 12th birthday party. He suffered so. As did my parents and my Mom does to this day.

For me, I’m certain that I’m far less bothered by small things, and probably many big things. What Marc and our family went through is a remarkable frame of reference.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

Working each day to be a good person.

What is your morning routine? 

5 AM. I begin by deciding to have a good day, meditating, a workout, eat a substantial breakfast, drink a big glass of water and drink a bit too much coffee.

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

I’m pretty sure I can feel my mind both calm and grow when I meditate.

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

Don’t cede control of your day by letting the contents of your inboxes set your agenda.

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

Forgive me but I don’t recall the title but it was by Judge Robert Bork. It was extremely difficult, and I had to re-read sentences and paragraphs on almost every page. It showed me how complicated the law is, how complex society can be and how hard people and institutions work to simplify things. Ease comes from comfortable understanding. Truth and breakthrough usually reside beyond that ease and it’s important to regularly push beyond comfort.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

“This too shall pass” is one. And my dad often suggested the folly of “only smiling at the pretty girls”. “We have two ears and one mouth… and they should be used in that proportion.” (I call this Pie Hole Management) And, ‘Whatever someone has to say they’re commenting as much about themselves as they are what it is they believe they’re commenting on”. “You can’t outrun your fork”.