Rich Mulholland | From Rock and Roll Roadie to Top Speaker Presentation Trainer
Smart Business Revolution

Rich Mulholland is the Founder of Missing Link, a presentation powerhouse. He is a rock and roll roadie-turned-entrepreneur who knows firsthand the impact that memorable presentations can make. He now works with executives and speakers from around the world, helping them to deliver unforgettable presentations that activate audiences and generate income. Rich is also the Author of three books including Legacide, Boredom Slayer, and his latest, Here Be Dragons

In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran interviews Rich Mulholland, the Founder of Missing Link, about his transition from being a rock and roll roadie to becoming an entrepreneur and speaker coach. Rich talks about his background doing sales and working as a roadie, the entrepreneurial lessons he has learned over the years, and how different coaches and peers have impacted his career.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • How Rich Mulholland became a stagehand and rock and roll roadie — and what he learned from working with different bands and speakers
  • How Rich transitioned from the stage to working in the office
  • Rich talks about his sales background, his experience being a waiter, and the entrepreneurial lessons he learned from a band that owned their own gear
  • How coaches Warren Rustand and Seth Godin have impacted Rich’s entrepreneurial career and success
  • Rich talks about his new book, the peers he respects, and where to learn more about him

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Sponsor: Rise25

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Episode Transcript

Intro 0:14

Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.

John Corcoran 0:40

All right, welcome everyone. John Corcoran here, the host of this show. You know, if you’re new to this show, go check out our archives because we get some great interviews in the archives of smart CEOs, founders, and entrepreneurs of companies of organizations ranging from Netflix to Kinkos’, YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, and many more. I’m also the Co-founder of Rise25, where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideal prospects. And my guest here today is Rich Mulholland. He has spoken in dozens and dozens of countries on six different contents continents. He is a rock and roll roadie turned entrepreneur he knows firsthand the impact that memorable presentations can make. That’s why he works with executives and speakers from around the world, helping them to deliver unforgettable presentations that activate audiences and generate income. He’s also the Founder of presentation powerhouse Missing Link, and has written three books. They are Legacide, Boredom Slayer, and his latest, Here Be Dragons. 

And of course, this episode is brought to you by Rise25, where we help b2b businesses get clients, referrals, and strategic partnerships with done for you podcasts and content marketing. If you’re listening to this, and you’ve ever thought, ‘Can I start or should I start a podcast?’ I say yes. One of the best things I’ve ever done in my life is get to start to get to talk to smart people like Rich all the time. Go to and you can learn more about how we do it. All right, Rich. It’s such a pleasure to have you, especially Spencer Shanan introduced us and encouraged me to have you on the show. And I’d seen your name around through EO communities and things like that. And so it’s a pleasure to have you here and I want to start with your journey. So you said that you never wanted to be a rock and roll roadie, you just kind of stumbled into it because Depeche Mode, a band, you are fans, a fan of this company, South Africa, where you were living, and you said, here’s an opportunity. So tell us a story how you got into it.

Rich Mulholland 2:31

Yes. First of all, thanks so much for having me. And thanks to Spencer, what a legend. What had happened was I had I’d been a big fan of Depeche Mode when I was in my early teens and even I guess a bit later, and I would have been 18 19 years old and Depeche Mode had come over to South Africa or coming south african the songs of faith and devotion to her. And my dad at the time had been working or just stopped working a year before for PA sound one of the big sound companies in the country. My dad is an award winning sound engineer. And I said to him that and the line was and I’ll always remember the line it was Dad, I will look the stage clean for free. Just I want to work on this gig. And so he said cool, no problem at all. And he arranged for me to be a stagehand, which is kind of the lowest of the low and you just basically do whatever needs to be done by any of the crew. And I went to the gig and he was we kind of walked in it was Stannah Bank Arena. And he said to me, where do you want to go to you want to go towards sound where, you know where him and my sister worked? And I thought, well, let me do something different. And the week before I’d seen OMD, I don’t know if you remember the band, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. And I’ve seen their lighting. And it was the first time that I’d ever seen lights like this, it was at bytes called the icons. And I said, No, I want to do lighting. And he took me to the lighting team and introduced me to this guy called Tim Dunn. And that was it. I was hooked.

John Corcoran 3:55

And what was that like for you being a fan of the band show seeing them up close having that kind of experience when they came to

Rich Mulholland 4:02

South Africa? Yeah, it was, funnily enough, a bit soul destroying, because they were assholes. Though it was so much like politics around the band. I actually one of my jobs on that gig was so it was so petty. For me, I thought, like how can humans be like this was that I had to put up visqueen so basically black like beanbag material, almost cutting the door of their dressing room in half. So that the one member of the band I’m not going to name names, didn’t have to walk through the same door as the other members of the band to get to the bathroom. So they actually cordoned off an area they wouldn’t even walk through the same hatch in the doorway. And you know, when you built up these people to be this amazing, it can be like that was a bit frustrating. And there’s been other bands were also that I was really sizing my eyes about them and I thought, well, they’re not cool. And then bands that I was indifferent to, like, Bryan Adams came down and made all the crew come down and play football with him for a while, or Chris is Canadian Canadians are notoriously odd Canadians, you know? They’re nice. Chris Isaak was just hilarious like he built an audience wasn’t vibing with his show well enough. So he turned on to his band and started whispering in the license and I was operating lights said to me, oh, wait a minute, wait, what he’s doing. And he turned around, he said, Okay, this is you guys are terrible. I’ve got to live in the south. And he started playing into the Sandman by Metallica played the whole song card went crazy. I was like, I love this guy.

John Corcoran 5:33

That’s cool. You know, it’s funny. I mean, I, my experience was politics. I worked in politics early in my career. And I had a similar experience with political leaders who, you know, you see them on the news and things like that. And some of them you see him upfront, have close, and they don’t have any personality charisma or anything like that. And then there are others. Brock, Obama is one who, you know, even behind the scenes, no cameras are around or anything, he would work to charm every person in the room in his own unique way. And you can see how why people like that rise to the level that they’re at. What about speakers? I mean, you know, you’ve been a professional speaker for many years. Certainly, you’ve come across speakers who, some who dazzle you and some who didn’t.

Rich Mulholland 6:20

Right, so my kind of first rule on on conferences is that the speaker you go to see is never the one you take home with you. You know, when you’re going there so hyped about one speaker, maybe there’s an expectation problem that you’ve you’ve oversold them in your brain, you expect more and then, you know, there’s always somebody else who you didn’t see coming and surprise and delight you. But I also believe that there’s no for me, it comes down to obviously the the level of the talk that you give, but I think there should be no Asshole Rule as well as a whole. And sometimes you’ll meet the speakers where you just think, Wow, you could have made even the tiniest bit of effort to be nice. The other thing is that I do sometimes understand that. And I try my best to remind myself UPV was the thing I learned when I was a waiter unconditional positive vibe, I tried to remind myself that I may have just got off a plane and been working all night, or you know, doing going from gig to gig. But these people, they just want me to show up and be nice. And you earn your gig by being nice to you have two clients, you have the audience and you have the people who put you in front of the audience. And I have to remind myself because sometimes I can’t, you know, you can get a bit frazzled, and something’s not set up the way you want to. And my knee jerk reaction would be to be frustrated and maybe come across as a bit of an ass. And as I get older, I’m trying my best to make sure that I never do that as well. Because people remember those stories. They do. It’s just one small gig for them. That was their single interaction with you,

John Corcoran 7:42

especially, especially for famous people, you know, in those stories get repeated for years I once saw so and so some famous person, right. And they’ll they’ll tell that story for years about how they were either nice than them or a jerk or something like that. So you did lining for a bunch of years. And then you had an interesting story of a career transition from that into working behind in the office and then eventually getting into helping people in front of the stage because you found that even like the most amazing lighting isn’t going to help if the presenter is horrible. So I love diving into people’s career journeys like that. So tell me a little bit about how you made that transition.

Rich Mulholland 8:22

So the first step was that in the stagehand work, everybody was doing the big gigs, everybody wanted to do the sexy rock and roll shows. But I figured if I was going to make a mic, I would put my hand up for the for the terrible ones as well. So I did all the little non sexy ones that people wouldn’t want to do. And there’s a one of those that the boss of this company Ofer Lapid, he came out and he said, you know, he’s an Israeli guy. So maybe my crew has told me about you, would you like to join us? And I said to him, Look, I don’t want to do staging. I want to go into the office, like, I’d love to join you. But I’d love to be in the back end always see myself as in sales and business. And he said, nobody will ever work for me until they understand what it’s like to be on the road. So if you give me two years, I will bring you in. And so I said yes. And that was it. And I left straightaway, like two days later on tour with Joe Cocker and Dr. Alban and Haddaway. And that was where I got started. And two years to the day, I just finished the Smirnoff international Fashion Awards. I was the lighting designer, I walked into his office and said “Ofer, you said to me two years. And, you know, I’ve done two years it was to this day”, and he said, “Oh, boy, you’re wasting your talent”. I said, “Ah, but you promised”. He said, “No problem”. He said, “What do you want to do?” I said, “I’m not sure.” He said, “Cool. Go sit in the boardroom. You’ve got three months to figure it out.” And he let me do that. I was like 21 years old. And he gave me three months. He paid me full salary, just to figure out what it was. What did

John Corcoran 9:45

you do like dig under the company? Did you have an idea what you wanted to do for that company at

Rich Mulholland 9:51

that point? Well, I wanted to figure out what would be something that where we could make an impact in a different way and I quickly realized that one of the biggest frustrations For me, it was in the offseason, on the two years that I was touring in the offseason, I had to go get work doing either a cable bashers you know those guys who run with the microphones you know running a holding cables for broadcast television or I did scaffolding for a while. And I thought it doesn’t make sense that we don’t have work in winter, we’ve got all of this gear that’s sitting doing nothing. And so I my thinking was twofold. The first move I made, my first play was raves. Although it was something that wasn’t my culture at all, I was very much into punk rock. I knew that the rave scene was Evergreen. And they were having these raves all the time. And they were always big on, you know, their lighting and so on. So I went hard hitting them finding all these raves to try and get them to do it. The bomb was they didn’t really have money, there was times where we had to actually stand at the door and get paid. We would take their takings until her bill was paid off. And so that was a bit terrible. And then the other thing I realized that was evergreen, just because one day when we were doing this one big rave, it was in a conference center. And I realized next to it was this other big conference getting set up and I thought, wow, that’s like three times bigger than our gig. And then I thought, Okay, well, I went to my boss, I said, I want to start a little conference division to be called a PSL conference services. And I went and I sold, the idea that we could make CEOs feel like rockstars Mm hmm.