Wilbert Wynnberg of ‘Think Act Prosper’: “Timing ”

Timing — all speakers should abide and follow the given time slot. Some speakers like to speak on forever and it will affect the flow of the next speaker, the break etc. Which can make a lot of people tired and restless as a result. As a part of our series about “5 Things You Need To Know […]

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Timing — all speakers should abide and follow the given time slot. Some speakers like to speak on forever and it will affect the flow of the next speaker, the break etc. Which can make a lot of people tired and restless as a result.

As a part of our series about “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Run a Live Virtual Event”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Wilbert Wynnberg.

As the Founder of Think Act Prosper, a global media and education company, Wynnberg’s goal is to impact a billion lives over the next few decades, to help people excel in their income, business and life. He truly believes that everybody can be a better version of themselves and the only thing stopping them from achieving greatness is their own limiting mindset. Wynnberg holds an MBA degree from Murdoch University and has completed Oxford University’s Algorithmic Trading Programme. On his quest to help others excel in life, Wynnberg’s mission has been picked up in many major news outlets, and he currently sits on the Forbes Business Council, while also being a regular contributor to their platform.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

I was born and raised in Singapore in a low-income family. Growing up, I was very rebellious and joined a gang when I was 13. I got into a lot of fights and was selling contraband items by the time I was 14. Life went by and I wasn’t doing much with my life and at 20, I got kicked out of my college for failing the same module twice. During those years, I was drinking, womanising and gambling excessively. By 21, I was locked up in an Army Detention Barracks for the first time, sentenced to 4 months due to insubordination and being AWOL from military training. Unfortunately I didn’t learn from my mistakes and at 23 I was sentenced to another 12 months. At 24, I was released, with no qualifications or work experience. It was then that I decided to turn my life around and started reading and ‘upgrading myself’. I started my first company at 27, and a year later went to the U.S. to find Brian Tracy. That same year, I survived two skydiving crashes which then led me to rethinking my life, and to my first book, Think Act Prosper. The book was then expanded into an annual business conference and recently, a monthly digital magazine. Since then, I’ve reached more than 250,000 people through my books, and my live and virtual events.

Can you tell us the story of what led you to this particular career path?

In 2017, I survived two near fatal skydiving crashes. Long story short, the experiences were eye opening, like a wake up call, and I decided to pursue my goals of becoming an author. That book eventually became a business conference under the same name, Think Act Prosper. I didn’t initially plan for that, but it evolved out of my desire to connect with others and share ideas.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I flew over to the United States for the very first time in 2017 to learn public speaking directly from Brian Tracy, the legendary speaker, in San Diego, California. After the 3-day speaking academy, it gave me confirmation about my skills and so I proceeded to market and promote my first ever speaking event on Entrepreneurship. Amazingly, 100 people paid for the event despite the fact that I had no experience in conducting such an event. I had hit on something missing that people wanted. However, I was the only speaker for the entire day, running from 9am to 5pm. Needless to say, the flow was not good, the content was pretty dry and there was low audience engagement. But I learned so much about the dos and don’ts of running events, and it made me want to deliver a better conference the following year.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

A book called “The One Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. We will never have enough time for everything but will have enough time for the most important things. Life is all about making priorities. That is also the reason why an hour used by some to make 10 dollars is the same hour used by others to make 10,000 dollars or more. Or in the case of Jeff Bezos, more than 8 million dollars per hour. Why the big difference? Because in Jeff’s case, and it tends to be the same with every other top CEO and entrepreneur, from Bill Gates to Elon Musk, they focus on one big thing at a time. Solve a big enough problem that benefits millions of other people in the process, that’s the key.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” — Elon Musk.

Too often, we as humans do two things. 1) We overestimate ourselves in the short-term, but underestimate ourselves in the long-term, and 2) we give too much credit to people who don’t matter. If today we knew exactly which date (month and year) we would die, do you think we would start to make better decisions, and prioritise things better? Would we potentially be able to live our lives to the fullest? After my second near-fatal skydiving crash in Lodi, California, I told myself that nobody, not even myself, will ever stop me from achieving great things in life. I will do what I need to even if things are not in my favour, because then I will die a happy man knowing that I’ve tried and given my all.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. For the benefit of our readers, can you tell us a bit about your experience organizing events in general?

After my “failed” event (the one that happened right after Brian Tracy’s academy, I decided to apply what I learnt from that event and conduct a more professional one in 2018. That meant inviting great speakers to the event as well. While the first event was good, I realised quickly some of the things I wasn’t doing right. I’ve conducted events in Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar and the United States now. Sometimes just getting good speakers may not be sufficient as the content those speakers are sharing are not localised. Also, since speakers are from abroad, event organisers may incur way higher costs and yet, not get their expected results. By 2019, I held another one and this time, it had much higher engagement. The majority of feedback was positive, there were a lot of things learnt by the participants and all in all, it had a manageable budget. During 2020, Covid-19 came and we had to postpone the LIVE conference until 2021. Nonetheless, we decided to push ahead and conduct virtual events (for the very first time). Since the start of Think Act Prosper Conference, we’ve had some incredible speakers, including Derreck Kayongo (CNN’s Hero 2011), Brian Tracy, Margie Warrell, Les Brown, Evan Carmichael, Kerri Kasem and Tim Storey.

Can you tell us a bit about your experience organizing live virtual events? Can you share any interesting stories about them?

Time zone is very important. Especially when you are inviting foreign speakers. Recently I was doing a virtual event and had invited a few speakers from the States. Singapore is 12–15 hours ahead depending on the State. However, recently, U.S had changed the time zone and Singapore became 13–16 hours ahead. In the end, the event started early and we had to wait. We just quickly adapted and got another speaker friend to stand in before officially kicking it off.

In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job creating live virtual events? What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?

Earlier this year, I attended a virtual event hosted by Grant Cardone. There were thousands of people attending online and the event was very engaging. There were breakout sessions and people were able to network regardless where they are from. Most importantly, they had A-list speakers. It was all organised very well, and I could see that Grant’s team has lots of experience engaging audiences. To be able to replicate great virtual events, I think people should try to attend as many as possible, to see how it feels to be a participant. Learn how others engage audiences online, and also understand what the participants want. Networking is something that is obviously missing from virtual events, so be sure to find a way to replicate that online.

What are the common mistakes you have seen people make when they try to run a live virtual event? What can be done to avoid those errors?

A lot of the mistakes from a virtual event are similar to in person events. Having a bad keynote speaker sets a bad tone to any event, and so if it’s an online event you need to make sure your speaker is not only engaging, but also that they are used to creating engaging content without a physical audience. For this, look towards those people who have had success on YouTube, podcasts or even acting, as these lack a physical audience to gain energy from and so the speaker is used to creating content in front of a screen. In an online event audience engagement is key, so you need to plan for breakout sessions, round tables, activities and networking. I advise hiring facilitators to ensure you have a team member in each breakout room who can help guide the conversion — don’t expect your audience to have to take the lead in breakouts, that’s not what they are paying for.

Which virtual platform have you found to be most effective to be able to bring everyone together virtually?

I’ve been using Zoom for dozens of live virtual events. It has been pretty stable and easy to use.

Are there any essential tools or software that you think an event organizer needs to know about?

Aventri, Accelevents (for good ticketing system), Adobe Connect, Dreamcast or simply just Zoom!

Ok. Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our discussion. An in-person event can have a certain electric energy. How do you create an engaging and memorable event when everyone is separated and in their own homes? What are the “Five Things You Need To Know To Successfully Run a Live Virtual Event” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Music — choosing the right music is more important because everything as compared to a ‘live’ event is reduced by at least 20%

Participation — Send out simple things like small banner etc for them to hold up and wave during session. Or send them PDF so that they can print out themselves.

Choice of speaker — Most ideal to invite speakers who have spoke quite a fair bit online.

Visual — depending on the topic, it might be better to have a nice PPT designed. Do check through speaker’s topic and any resources/tool the speaker may need. Imagine Elon Musk talking about highly technical stuff with no visuals.

Timing — all speakers should abide and follow the given time slot. Some speakers like to speak on forever and it will affect the flow of the next speaker, the break etc. Which can make a lot of people tired and restless as a result.

Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a live virtual event that they would like to develop. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

Know the objective of the event. Assess your strengths and weaknesses right from the beginning. Can you find the “who” to cover your area of weaknesses. Identify your distribution/marketing channel(s) — how will people know about this event, find you and pay/sign up for it. If your ticket cost is high, try to find sponsor(s) that are doing something in line with the theme of your event. At the end of the day, you want to try as much as possible to get your sponsor some ROI, otherwise it will be a one-off deal. Rehearse enough and always have a back up plan. If the speakers’ contracts allow, record the event, break it down into snippets and use it to create an intro and marketing videos for the next event. With digital assets and proof, people are more likely to sign up for the event next time. It’s all about building momentum and movement. Just like TED talks, they weren’t initially successful, it took time for them to become a household name. So keep pushing and never quit!

Super. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I live by my quote, “Those who dare to think, and act with a plan, will eventually prosper.” Think Act Prosper (TAP) is a movement. We want people to be unleashing their true potential and living their best, every single day and we want to create inspiration for others. The world is only as strong as our weakest link. Having more billionaires on earth each day doesn’t add any benefit, but eliminating poverty as a whole would be life changing for all of us. After all, we are only just a temporary resident of the Earth. It’s the impact we have made in people’s lives and the legacy that we have left behind that will matter the most.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Elon Musk. He’s so passionate about the journey of an entrepreneur. Money doesn’t excite him as much. And he genuinely wants to save the earth. Of course, I am also in awe of his never-say-die attitude. No matter the magnitude of the problem, he always finds a way out.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

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