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The “No BS” Keynote Speaker

Sara Grillo Keynote Speaking Topic List

Hi there and thanks for visiting my page. My name is Sara Grillo and I am a financial services keynote speaker based in New York. A while ago I made a business decision to remove any BS from my talks.

Here’s what I mean:

  • I won’t self refer
  • I won’t talk about what I do for a living
  • I won’t bring up countless examples of what I’ve done for clients
  • I won’t structure the talk so that what I do is cleverly positioned as the solution

Let’s be honest: most keynote talks are a glorified marketing pitch and the speaker stands to gain more than the audience.

Wouldn’t it be great if keynote speeches could cut the BS and put the audience’s interests first?

With me you get a performance that will invigorate and change people’s lives not just give me a chance to hand out my business card. It will be about the audience and their needs come first.

You will find I do a few things that most other speakers don’t do.

  • I poll the audience ahead of time to get a sense of what is on their minds and what questions they want me to answer. Then I structure my talk around those points.
  • I stop and review every 10-15 minutes because let’s be honest – most people aren’t going to pay attention after 7 minutes. Most of what I say people won’t retain after an hour passes. I design my talks to support the retention of information.
  • I talk for a total of 30 minutes throughout the allotted time. The rest of the time is spent answering questions, roleplays, or other methods of having audience members participate actively.
  • I send participants home with a short list of takeaways to jog their memory.
  • I give the audience a quiz at the end. This is to promote retention, outline the key points, and correct any misunderstandings.
  • I use props and stunts depending upon your preferences (burning an insurance policy up on stage, chocolate fountain, karaoke skit)
  • I use humor.

Here are some of my talks below but as I said, what matters is your audience’s needs. This is just a foundation for the actual finished product.

Cost is $5k to $10k for an in-person keynote and $1k for a webinar.

Understanding the Online Buyer

Does anyone in financial services actually get new clients through online platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook? Most people are skeptical because they haven’t been successful in understanding how the online buyer thinks.

You have to communicate with online buyers differently. In this seminar, financial professionals will learn how. I’ll cover:

  • How the mindset of the online buyer differs from someone you meet in person or get referred to
  • A repeatable  3 step messaging strategy that allows you to communicate with your online network and avoid coming across as noise which is what 99% of people do
  • How to avoid barfing information on people on social media and use the 2 Sentence Method instead
  • Why social media doesn’t work for financial professionals who barf information on other people
  • How to deepen advisor-prospect relationships using social media before you ask for the meeting

How to Throw Down on YouTube

YouTube is one of the fastest growing search engines on the internet and an opportunity that very few financial professionals have yet tapped.

In this seminar specifically designed for financial prospecting, Sara will demonstrate techniques for getting your brand out on YouTube and finding new clients. You’ll learn:

  • Why YouTube is the #1 opportunity for financial marketing in 2019
  • What the very few financial professionals who have been gigantically successful on YouTube have done
  • Why the rest of the competition won’t do this – and why you should!
  •  How to create a YouTube platform that will serve your target niche
  • Techniques for going about the more advanced strategies such as YouTube advertising
  • What not to do on YouTube

Not a #FinancialCliche

The ability to differentiate yourself matters now more than ever. Yet most afinancial branding is a constant stream of jargon, cliché, and sameness.

In this three hour workshop, advisors will learn how to build a brand that is not a #FinancialCliche:

  • What qualifies as a valid brand vs. an invalid brand
  • How to design a LinkedIn page that expresses your brand and attracts attention
  • How to explain what you do without sounding like a cliché
  • 6 phrases not to use when you talk about what you do
  • Email and out of office messaging with style and personality
  • How style of dress, personal grooming, office design, and pets can be used to reflect your brand
  • Blogging, podcasting, and other content strategies that should be done in a cliché-free fashion, and how to achieve this

This presentation is highly interactive and includes quiz sessions involving volunteers from the audience.

Please contact me and let’s get your audience hooked up with a No BS Financial Speech!

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The “No BS” Way to Give a Keynote Speech

I used to be a keynote speaker. I have recently resigned from my past role in favor of what I believe to be a more beneficial way to deliver a speaking presentation.

Is this a Sci Fi novel?

You have now entered The Conference Zone, a dimension as vast as it is phony and as timeless as it is vapid.

It’s no exaggeration than these events are more like something out of a science fiction novel, a hyper-imagined reality created by overzealous marketing people (like me).

Another water bottle with a compliance firm’s logo on it? Oh, I can personalize it with my name? You know I have always wanted a water bottle personalized with my name. Then there’s some shot of people running around interviewing attendees with a headset on like they’re the air traffic control. Everything so staged for the conference wrapup series like those seventh grade bat mitzvah videos set to “Through the Years” by Kenny Rogers.

The speakers on stage as if they’re giving The Inaugural Address but the people in the audience look brain dead. I mean they literally look like they’re going to keel over from boredom. Even the people on the panels look brain dead.

Is this real life or are we on another planet? Here’s the reality about what all this grandeur really comes down to – and unfortunately it’s not much.

The reality is that people are forgetful by nature. Here’s an article from Rad Ed Asia that says that we humans forget half of what we learn within an hour, and even more by the end of the day. Who knows if this data is made up or not, but do you doubt that to be true from your experience? Whether it’s made up or not this data does in fact represent real life!

In my experience I’ve seen very little actually gets absorbed. Maybe for the first session of the day but not for anything after 11 AM. Nobody listens to anyone talk for more than seven minutes without taking an iPhone break.

So if this is true, here’s what the millions spent on conferences essentially means:

  • All the money the participants spend (airfare, hotel, time spent away from work, money spent caring for household in their absence) does not align with value gained
  • The money spent by conference organizers is really going not to the benefits of the participants but rather to create a forum to appease the exhibitors – the speakers and firms who exhibit at the pavilion (booth people) – who are essentially paying for the event.
  • Speakers are normally not paid (unless they are Simon Sinek or a famous athlete or a Navy Seal), and as a result they take to the podium with the sole purpose of advertising their product (without blatantly appearing to do so).  And they are very good at the art of subtly sliding their services into the discussion. If it’s a breakout room it’s worse.

I’ll admit – in the past as a keynote I maybe fell into this. Then one day I woke up to the fact that and asked myself these questions. Are we making progress here? Is anyone really being enlightened? Am I really doing anyone any good other than myself?


It’s a glorified vacation

Did you ever wonder why all conferences are held in places with palm trees?

Because if it were held in Detroit in the middle of February then nobody would go! That’s not somewhere that anyone goes on vacation.

Admit it everyone. You go to a conference to go on vacation. Think about what you do on vacation:

  • Eat a lot of buffet
  • Drink alcohol
  • Take a lot of pictures
  • Sit down and relax
  • Walk around and look at things
  • Socialize with people you don’t know and will never talk to again
  • Stay in a hotel
  • You can bring a friend (Ever wonder why some people travel with their spouse to these things? Because they’re tagging on a day to the beginning and end and knocking out the whole week disguised as a business trip without having to count that as their family vacation!)
  • Go to a comedy event or a dance party the final evening and get royally sloshed because who cares you’re never going to see most of these people again

Not that much difference, is there?

Look, I get it. Everyone needs a break from life. Do you know that I honestly took a business trip one time to get away from my ex-boyfriend? If you need to go on vacation by yourself then just tell your spouse, pay the divorce fees, and forget about calling it a business trip.

The vacation buzz normally wears off normally within 20 minutes of you returning back to your email account after being gone for a week. Then you’re slugging down coffee and doughnuts barking at your intern for not sending out the holiday party invitations on time while you were gone.


You call it networking – but it is really just curiosity? People go to conferences for the same reason they go to high school reunions – to see, be seen, and find out how they stack up against the people in their peer group.

I want to see if I can meet someone powerful. I can impress them so they’ll think I’m cool. We’ll be so BFF. Maybe I can join the cool kids club. We can go to a secret dinner that only other cool people are invited.

Unfortunately we’ll all agree the people you are more likely to meet are the people running around trying to meet everyone and hand out their business card. You know, the vendors who want to convince you to sign up for a free trial of their trading platform? As much as you try to avoid those people most of the time that is who you end up talking to it seems.


Let me ask you this.

Would people go to conferences if there were a quiz on each topic that they would have to answer at the end? If you didn’t just get the CE credit but instead had to earn the credit?

Nobody would go.

I remember I once attended a training workshop and there was a test at the end that was reported to your boss (who paid the workshop fee.) Well we all found out about this quiz upon arrival and there were some people who went off the deep end. I mean, they really lost it.

My solution

Face it. At the end of the day, what you get out of a conference experience doesn’t warrant the time and money it costs to go. 

Here’s what I think can be done, and that I am personally going to do as a keynote speaker, to change things in the future. If you’re not a speaker but rather a participants or an organizer, there are items on this list as well.

Now what I’m going to tell you is going to cause many conferences to go out of business but I think that’s about right. I think many conferences shouldn’t exist. There are too many and like I said most are a waste of time. People can get their CE credits by taking online classes if they need to.

  • First of all, speakers have to be paid. Yes, that’s right. I don’t go to a Cardi B concert because I get to see some no name rapper who stinks whose record label paid the promoter for stage time. Cardi B is not paying to be on stage. She is the real thing, she is who people come to see. Give the people something to come and see and they will pay for it.
  • And how do you create that kind of a sensation? The selection process should be more stringent. They should be selected on the basis of the learning outcomes of their talks rather than just a pitch with a flashy title or their reputation. They should be required to submit an outline, a thorough point by point outline (almost like a college syllabus). If they pitch, self refer, or describe what they do with clients during the presentation, their pay should be withheld or reduced depending on severity.
  • If you can’t afford to pay speakers, then don’t hold a conference. Save everyone the expense and have a webinar instead. Use technology to build your following until you get enough interest where you can get thousands of people attending and then charge them to attend. No more conferences with 100 people in a room. More like 10,000.
  • Poll the attendees prior to the speaker’s talk and ask the audience what points they want the speaker to cover. Ever since I have started listening to my audience I have found that my talks align better and engagement is much higher.  Then tell the speaker to include those points in the talk. Since you are paying the speaker you should expect them to work for the money.
  • The talks should include a periodic review every 10 minutes. Literally have the speaker stop talking and review the key points. When you do this, you re-engage the audience. I also started doing this in my talks and found it made it harder to lose people.
  • Each talk should have a takeaway sheet. Now, I don’t mean some glossy big old brochure. I mean an index card. It should be an index card with the key points of the talk printed on it for each attendee to take home.
  • Each talk should have a quiz at the end that the speaker creates. Tests will be scored and reported to whoever paid for the participant’s ticket.

Sara’s Upshot

So now that I’ve resigned as a keynote speaker of the old regime I’ll have to call myself “A keynote speaker formerly known as Sara Grillo.” Thanks for reading and please refer here if you want more info on the no BS talks that I am planning to give this year.


Rad Ed Asia. (n.d.) Why you will forget more than 50% of what you learn within an hour. And how to change that. Retrieved on August 13th, 2019 from

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Cracking the Code of the Sudden Wealth Client

Does your website say this: I help affluent individuals and families, business owners, and people who have suddenly come into wealth.

Sounds like a good line, right?

But are you really a specialist in helping people through change? Are you really? Have you studied it?

Do you really understand the psychology of the suddenly rich person?

Change is uncomfortable, confusing, and needing to be managed whether or not it’s a good thing.

In this show with Susan Bradley, Founder of the Financial Transitionist Institute, you will learn about the stages of transition and what you need to do to get into the mind of the sudden wealth client.

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Let’s Get Past the Lip Service on Getting More Women into Finance

I was honored to speak with Dorothy Hinchcliff, Director of the Invest In Women conference and Executive Editor of Financial Advisor magazine, to talk about the real story. How can we get more women into finance?

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How to Choose What Sara Grillo “No BS” Content is Best for You

This article talks about what content of Sara Grillo's videos, podcasts, and blogs about financial marketing is best for you.

By now you may have gathered I publish a ton of content on the internet. Honestly, it’s great stuff. I have a “No BS” policy and there’s a ton of value you can get if you want to know about financial marketing.

But with so much to choose from (podcasts, videos, blogs, etc.), where can you find what you need?

Here’s a quick guide.


In these videos I discuss overall financial marketing strategies but do not provide actionable tips. These videos are highly entertaining and funny.

Click here to subscribe to my channel.


This is the only place in anything I publish where you can actually get practical and actionable tips about financial marketing.

For a monthly fee, I provide general guidance and advice in my other content, but to be honest if you tried to DIY based upon that it there’s not a high likelihood that you’d succeed. There are just too many details that I leave out.

It’s kind of like the famous chefs.

If Julia Child gave you her cheesecake recipe, it wouldn’t be enough – there’s no way your cheesecake would come out as good unless she gave you step by step direction and demonstrated visually.

To be real you would probably waste a lot of time trying to DIY on this.

You get three videos a month teaching you the mechanics of how to get online leads. You also get a private members webinar each month where I provide group coaching. These videos are short and to the point in my signature “no BS” style.

Click here to join my membership.

If you are the DIY type, then the Sara Grillo Membership is for you.


On my podcast I discuss overall financial industry themes and interview thought leaders such as Michael Kitces and Ron Carson. I also post my rap songs about financial marketing here. Highly entertaining and humorous but again, no practical and actionable content.

Click here to subscribe to my podcast.


I have written over 100 guest blogs for Advisor Perspectives magazine, mostly about marketing. These articles are extremely snarky. Examples: Advisor Bios Stink, How to Tell if your Website is Worthless.

Click here to visit my author page.

Which one is right for you?

If you have any questions which one is for you, please let me know and I can point you in the right direction.

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In What Order do I Watch the Membership Videos?

My membership covers a variety of subjects. This blog presents an order in which you should watch the membership videos.

To access these videos, please log on to your portal and input the password for each vid. If you have trouble getting to the videos, please access the FAQs doc here.

Setting up your profile

Start here.

Video 7 is the first one to watch when you begin my membership. It will teach you how to set up your LinkedIn profile page correctly so you don’t look like a cliché. It’s important to do this first because you’ll be directing traffic here – it’s the foundation for your prospecting.

Create your list of 20 and start connecting

Next you need to learn how to search for prospects within your target niche. Watch videos 1-3 to learn how LinkedIn search works, how to create a target list of 20 people, and how to send them a message to connect with you

Vid 1

Vid 2

Vid 3

Vid 10

Advanced messaging – sequences and transitions

Once you get a certain amount of people connected to you, it’s time to get a meeting with them. This takes a high degree of skill in the way you communicate. The following videos will teach you transition messages – how to get them from cold to warm to meeting – as well as some sequences of messages that have worked for other clients of mine.

Vid 6.5

Vid 12

Vid 11

Vid 17

Vid 19

Vid 23

Vid 24

Vid 29

Vid 30

Developing your online brand

Now that you’re attracting attention to your page, your online brand can’t be a boring, dry financial advisor cliché. Here’s how to give it some personality.

Vid 9

Vid 15

Vid 20

Vid 21

Vid 25

Vid 31

Driving traffic to your profile and raising visibility

Tips to get even people to find you on LinkedIn instead of you having to find them.

Vid 4

Vid 5

Vid 6

Vid 8

Vid 14

Vid 22

Vid 28

Program management

These are the things you’ll need to do on a routine basis to keep your profile up to date, stay compliant, and stay on track to meet your goals.

Vid 18

Vid 26

Vid 27

Sara Grillo Membership Extras

I have included a few “extras” in the membership. Ask me to send you the following Excel sheets.

ROI analyzer – Have you ever looked at how profitable each business line or business activity is for you? Use this sheet to find out.

Prospect tracker – If you don’t have a CRM, use this Excel sheet to track progress on each name on your list.

Results sheet – Monitor your daily progress using this Excel sheet.

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Vid 31: How to Make This Awesome Thumbnail

If you were to hire a graphic designer to create all your images it may get a bit expensive. This is a way to create your own images for use on social media, your website, newsletters, etc. These cut out images look great and are a way to use your authentic photography instead of stock […]
To access this post, you must purchase Membership Portal.
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Vid 30: Transition Strat #3: Little Humor Quip

When you are connected with someone and can’t get a meeting, try using humor. Here are some examples of tastefully humorous messages you may want to try to move someone from a cold to warm connection on LinkedIn. Here are some example you can use, or you may want to try making up your own. […]
To access this post, you must purchase Membership Portal.
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Vid 29: LinkedIn Message Sequence for Super Prospecting!

Use this four Step LinkedIn Messenger sequence to engage current connections or reach new prospects on LinkedIn. This video will walk you through a four step process for getting new connections to get to know you without weirding them out or overselling them. It will also teach you how to invigorate your existing connections and […]
To access this post, you must purchase Membership Portal.
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I Want Your Feedback On My Podcast (Please)

For those of you who have been so kind to listen to my podcast, thank you and please let me know how I can better help you solve problems in your business. Survey below: