Last Updated on May 14, 2021
Klyn Elsbury is a sought-after trainer, best-selling author, keynote speaker, certified neurolinguistic programming practitioner and Cystic Fibrosis warrior. Klyn’s story and daily work to thrive, rather than survive, has inspired thousands who have heard her speak and through her training programs. Klyn’s principles have been shared in over 100 publications and even lead to a prime-time slot on US Nightly News with Lester Holt, in part, because she has proven that with the right training, you can radically transform your company culture, your company, and thereby your life. You can learn more about Klyn at missklyn.com.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you became a successful keynote speaker?
So yeah like overnight success takes a lot of nights right. I wrote a book in 2016 from my hospital bed as you guys may have saw I have cystic fibrosis so I am hospitalized anywhere from two to six months a year and I am one of the oldest people in the world with this condition. And so I wrote a book because I was freakin bored I had nothing else going on and I thought my mom would buy it right and she did which was nice of her “thanks mom” and everybody else bought it too.
And so it went viral on Amazon and then I may or may not have been having martinis one night on a beach and this really successful guy goes “hey do you want to speak at our event:” and I’m like “okay, why not” and what’s so funny is like there were major celebrities at the event like Jack R Willing, Chef Gordon, Bill Walton, and me. And it was my first real keynote and I was the highest rated speaker so I got signed to a bunch of agencies that day.
So yay, and that’s how it all like unfolded. And then I had to get off of disability because I was legally disabled so I couldn’t make any money which was fun and I decided like maybe there’s a business here. So I told myself I’m going to give myself six months, see what I can accomplish on social media and so far people keep tuning in, so It’s been more than six months.
At what point did you branch out into influencer marketing?
Gosh! Maybe literally lik e- I want to say it was only like six months ago which is weird. So here’s how it happened, this is so funny, I was at a networking event and I hate networking events I’m not good at them, I’m very socially awkward, and I was trying to tell like at the time I thought I was a really great sales critic because I got a couple contracts, I was walking around like really helping companies with closing percentages.
And I was trying to pitch myself at this networking event which by the way don’t do that at networking events, and the lady in charge goes “what are you doing in sales I’ve no doubt you’re great at it but social media is what you’re good at” and I’m like “no I’m not I suck at it I only have fifty thousand followers” and I said that and the guy next to me goes “can I hire you to run my socials” and I go “no, I’m not that good at it” and then another guy like everybody kept coming up to saying “will you teach me, will you teach me” and then I was kind of like Klyn stop chasing the wrong rabbit like go down this hole. And so ever since then it’s been fun but you got to embrace what you’re good at but I was afraid because so many other people have millions of followers, you know what I mean.
In 2018, you read 39 books and listed them in an Instagram post. Can you share a few of your favorites that have had an impact on you?
Yeah. I’m going to go with an unknown one. So here;’s my issue with some of the New York Time’s Best Sellers is it’s all pretty one on one. Like a lot of writers have to write for third to fifth grade reading comprehension nowadays so I like the ones hat not many people know about, so I’m going to give my first shout out. If you are looking for a way of understanding sales ,I always give this shout out, you need to follow Jack Daly he started his career years and years ago, scaled multiple companies to multiple three figure millions if that makes sense like hundred million plus. And what was interesting about him is he just started his Iron Man training at like fifty-seven years old, never swam before. So he’s an inspiration to me and I’ve read his books Hyper Sales Growth and now I’m blanking on the second one but if you Google Jack Daly, he is going to come up.
And not many people know about him in the influencer space but in like Corporate America everybody knows Jack. So that was the first one and then I’m a huge fan , I’m looking at one of my stacks right now, I’m also a huge fan of The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. It’s an old but true. It inspired me to write my book and it talks about how the tiny things we do everyday lead to the big things that happen ten years from now so do not lose sight of the small things. Because I think as an influencer we chase the likes, we chase the follows, we chase the engagement on one hand but on the other hand we are actually talking to humans on the other end and those tiny moments we can be of help to another human being that’s what creates an influencer space if you will. It’s all about loving everybody. It’s really cool. It’s not what you’re thinking it’s not like girls stop apologizing it’s like say hi to somebody and actually mean it and see what happens.
What is your favorite topic to discuss in your talks?
So I’m known for two things. I’ve been described as like Tony Robbins meets Gary V which is hilarious to me because I’m super – like I studied the linguistic programming and I’m getting my masters in it but then like if you’re messing up I’m going to curse at you so it’s kind of a weird vibe we got going on. Then I’m a female because it’s like what is she even doing like she shows up in pink and then she talks like a dude, it’s fun. So yeah I would say my favorite topic – I request three of them most often.
The first one is overcoming adversity, how to turn adversity into achievement right. There is actually a science to it so it’s always have fun science. but there’s actually four principles that if you’re having a tough time it’s called a crucible. Real quick so crucible is a life changing moment that is sudden, usually unplanned, and it can change the entire trajectory of your life. You know, getting hit by a car, losing your limbs, divorce, moving something like that so when you are in the heat of it what are the four strategies you can do to get out of that. And everything I relate back to cystic fibrosis and entrepreneurship which leads into the second one.
I get asked a lot about, you know, what are your views on entrepreneurship and that’s more of like a panel type discussion because I believe especially in the influencer space there’s never been a better time in the world to become entrepreneurs. We can make more money off this little device then our parents ever had the opportunity to do if they started a business, you know what I mean, and that to me is super exciting.
There’s a chick I follow she doesn’t know who I am, she’s like eighteen her name is Kaylyn Slevin and what’s fascinating out her is she was too short to be a model and she’s really passionate about fashion at a young age. And so she just built her Instagram account she’s got over six hundred thousand followers and now the fashion industry is coming to her to model their stuff and she couldn’t get in before. So like if you have a dream and a goal and there’s something you want to do like pick up your freaking phone, you know what I mean. If you’re business savvy and you’ve got the personality like you can crush it in ways that nobody thought. And then my third one is the tactical how to social media and that’s what shark school is which is the underside of my business. I teach people how to do this teach them how to be sharks.
What has been your favorite partnership to-date with a brand?
So you guys see the movie Five Feet Apart it was just in theaters. Okay so she has cystic fibrosis same thing as I do and I coincidentally, it’s right there you can’t see it but, I have – yeah just come on over, right here’s my address us below, you guys are fun. No so there’s this product called, and this is totally unpaid plug for them because I love them so much, but it’s a product called AffloVest and what it is is it’s like this jacket I’m wearing but it’s got little motors inside it and so it shakes my lungs to force me to cough up the infection. And before AffloVest my machine that did that was like sixty pounds I kid you not.
It was the worst. I never did my treatments because it was so inconvenient and we partnered, I took a couple selfies, and then they flew me out to Austin to do a keynote for their global sales meetings. And just the company they’re passionate, they care about the CF population and then the product like it’s changed my life. I can do my treatments anytime I want now, I can do them at the gym it’s weird people make fun of me but I do it.
Where do you see influencer marketing headed in the next 5 years or so?
So I mean for me I’ve had I don’t want to call it rapid success. But it was funny because I was flipping back through my Instagram last night paying attention to the analytics and I noticed a year ago on like one of the biggest keynotes of my life I had a photo of me on stage and it was a great photo it had drama, it was insane and the thing that was great about it, why am I telling you guys this, it got like thirty-two likes. I’m like “what nobody cared” because nobody knew who I was or what I was up to then and now if I post that I don’t even what to know what will happen. So my direction personally I think everybody needs to at least strive to be an influencer even if you have a big company like you need to be the face because people are so tired of “well we stand for safety” really like who are you, you know.
I want to buy from people now I don’t want to buy from brands and if the person is the brand it makes sense. Especially, Millennials like we stay in jobs for six months if we don’t like our boss like we’re out, peace and we should be because we don’t have to settle for that life anymore because we are the brokest generation there ever was and with a little bit of savviness you can break the whole system like, you know, Kaylyn did. Kaylyn Slevin and well and me.
But like that’s kind of the beauty of it so five years from now if you’re not catching on now I feel bad for you, you know, you can change your entire life and I don’t think this is going anywhere. I think it’s going to get stronger for a relatively little ad spend if you’re a major brand you can reach thousands of people that your entire marketing department couldn’t figure out how to meet if you partner with an influencer. And I believe that micro influencers are where it’s at because the big ones you get like that hashtag ad and it’s all like kind of wordy and like the reach isn’t as big because the fans aren’t highly engaged, some of them they are but, you know, you can get a hundred thousand likes and still nobody’s buying from you. But these micro influencers like the engagement and the depth of the connections people buy and I think there’s a big play there. So if anyone’s even debating getting into this I think this is revolutionary. I think it’s stronger, deeper, and more monetizable.
What advice do you have for influencers who are just getting started and might be overwhelmed with that it takes to grow their audience?
I needed that twelve dollars dang it. I needed that twelve dollars. It’s funny my fiancee sometimes he’ll ask me questions I just came out with a kit, this is not a shameless plug this is a story if you want it cool like email me we’ll figure something out, but it’s like seven hundred fifty must have digital marketing hacks for social media and how to build your business. Like all the websites, all the tools, some of them are probably grey hacks we’ll call it what it is.
Dang it where did the story go. Oh and I was showing this to my fiancee last night and I’m like “look how cool this is people are buying it” and he goes “can I have it” and I go “for ninety-seven dollars” and he goes “babe I pay rent here” and I go “yeah do you want me to ever pay rent cause I need your money now if you want this tool kit” and it was just funny and like, you know, if he wants it sure I guess he can have it but he should probably pay for it.
So that’s where I kind of think it’s all going to. It’s like if you’re just starting out you don’t have money, first of all none of us do when we start so cool you’re not alone embrace the suck. Yeah that’s my word for today because what you do is going to suck. And I firmly believe this if you look back at where you were six months ago and you’re not embarrassed a little you haven’t made progress. Like I went through my book literally a couple weeks ago because I was filming the audible and like this things has like thousands of spelling errors like it’s embarrassing that I even put this out in the market. And so I’m like I could be embarrassed and take it off or it could be like, you know what, wow I’ve grown so much. So if you suck at something great I hope you sucked more yesterday than you did today and you’ll be fine.
Note: Influencer interviews are edited for time and clarity.
Andrew is the Head of Client Services for Intellifluence and has a background in communications. He is committed to helping brands get the most out of their campaigns and is the co-host of the Influencer Spotlight series.