Steve Bustin of Get Your Voice Heard is one of our dedicated desk holders at Tower Point. He’s a business communication expert who spends most of his time working as a professional speaker and public speaking coach.
Hi Steve! What drew you to the world of business communications and keynote speaking?I’ve always been interested in communications and the media - I started a family newspaper when I was 8! My first job was as a journalist for BBC News then I moved into PR, eventually running my own agency. People started asking me to speak at or compere their events and I realised it was something I’m good at, something I enjoy and something that could earn me a living. I’m still fascinated by how we communicate as individuals and as organisations. So many businesses get it SO wrong then wonder why they’re not seeing the results they’d hoped for.
You’ve had many varied paths in your career and seemed to have achieved success to anything you’ve put your mind to! What’s your secret?I’m not sure I have a secret beyond making sure you enjoy what you do. I love what I do for a living, I love the variety and I love the challenges it brings me. I don’t get ‘Sunday night blues’ - and I always say that if you do, you’re in the wrong job! Life is too short to be doing something that doesn’t make you happy - but it’s up to you to change it.
Do you have a particular career highlight you’d like to share?
Crikey - it’s hard to pin down one thing from a 25+ year career (yes, I’m that old!) I started as a Broadcast Journalist for BBC News. On the day after the 1997 election, I was sent to ‘doorstep’ Margaret Thatcher and interviewed her outside her home, then later that day was sent to Tony Blair’s house in Islington and ended up getting a few words from him on the day he became Prime Minister - that was quite an exciting day! Since starting my own business in 2002, highlights would have to be being named UK Speaker of the Year in 2015 and the publication of my first book, The Authority Guide To Presenting and Public Speaking, in 2016.
I suppose the other more recent and slightly odd ‘highlight’ was the discovery last year that I’ve, unwittingly, become the face of an online international dating scam, with my photos being used on fake profiles on dating sites to scam women out of money. One of the women contacted me and we ended up going public with the story.
I appeared all over TV and newspapers, largely to try to raise awareness of the issue and to warn women, not to date ‘me’ online! It’s all about to come around again as (a) I’m now filming a documentary for the BBC about it and (b) Peter James has just based his new Roy Grace detective novel loosely on my story! I also now give keynote speeches about it, telling the story of what happened (which is equally hilarious and horrifying) and giving advice on how to protect yourself online, how to spot a scam and how to turn the most unlikely of events into a business opportunity.
You’re one of our long-term dedicated desk members, what has kept you at PLATF9RM?I’ve been a co-worker in a number of spaces over the last 12 years or so but I loved PLATF9RM the moment I walked in - the atmosphere, the people and the surroundings. It’s professional without being corporate and informal without feeling like a student union (which some co-working spaces definitely do!) I think the team strike a remarkably good balance in keeping the space (and the occupants) in fine form.
Are there any events you would recommend for new members to attend?I don’t get to as many PLATF9RM events as I’d like to because of the slightly odd schedule I keep, but I’ve enjoyed Cereal Filler, as it’s a great way to learn more about your co-workers, and I’ve been to a couple of excellent workshops - and walkshops!
What is your favourite part of PLATF9RM?I’m tempted to say the coffee machine, I’ve been struggling with chronic back pain for the last few months so I’ve spent a fair amount of time working flat on my back on the sofas outside the 6th floor training rooms, or keeping myself moving and taking screen breaks by walking down the back stairwell, through the car park then up the front stairwell. It’s good exercise!
As a theatre-lover and critic, do you have any recommendations of what we should go and see?I’m definitely an arts lover - I’m a Trustee of Brighton Fringe and as a journalist used to write about arts for publications including The Times and was a theatre critic for LBC radio. With the Fringe and Festival coming to an end, it can feel like there’s nothing happening in the city, arts-wise, but nothing could be further from the truth. There’s no one show I’d specifically recommend right now but it always amazes me how many people miss out by not being across what’s coming up. Sign up for email or mailing lists for all the local venues such as The Old Market, Brighton Open Air Theatre and The Marlborough, and look out for the pop-up events such as the Picturehouse open-air cinema at Preston Manor.
I know that you’re a fan of drag, do you have any favourite queens? Local or otherwise?It’s probably more precise to say I’m a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race! My husband and I have been watching it (originally slightly illegally) right since season 1 and it’s one of the most joyous, life-affirming shows on TV. It’s also refreshing to see a show that celebrates gay lives in such an unapologetic way. Favourite queens? Latrice Royale, obvs, and Bianca Del Rio (who’s playing The Brighton Centre again in September) and as Season 11 nears its end we’re definitely #TeamYvie Locally I think the drag scene is decidedly old-fashioned. I’m looking forward to DragRace UK starting on BBC3 later this year and am hoping it will help modernise the drag scene by making people realise how drag is an art form that really can push boundaries and change lives.
What keeps you motivated?I’m tempted to say money, coffee and cake - not necessarily in that order! In reality, I love what I do and feel like I’ve really found my niche and my professional calling. When I’m on stage as a speaker or compere I love being able to entertain and also educate, giving people something useful they can take away and apply to their business.
When I’m not on stage myself, I’m usually coaching other people how to do it, which is incredibly rewarding, seeing someone go from a bag of nerves who dreads setting foot on a stage (or even just standing up in a meeting) to someone who can deliver to an audience with confidence and creativity. I’m like a proud parent when I see them enjoying their first round of applause and that’s very motivating to keep doing what I do!
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