SL059: Stress Management For Professional Speakers – with Kathy Gruver

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Stress Management

In today’s episode Kathy Gruver talks about Stress Management For Professional Speakers.

The outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus), and its profound impact on the speaking business, means the topic of stress management for professional speakers has never been more timely. In this episode of The Speakers Life we hear from stress and communication expert Kathy Gruver on what we can do to survive and thrive.

Stress Management

 

Artificial Intelligence Generated Transcript

Below is a machine-generated transcript and therefore the transcript may contain errors.

James Taylor
Hi, it’s James Taylor, founder of SpeakersU. Today’s episode was first aired as part of International Speakers Summit the world’s largest online event for professional speakers. And if you’d like to access the full video version, as well as in depth sessions with over 150 top speakers, then I’ve got a very special offer for you. Just go to InternationalSpeakersSummit.com, where you’ll be able to register for a free pass for the summit. Yep, that’s right 150 of the world’s top speakers sharing their insights, strategies and tactics on how to launch grow and build a successful speaking business. So just go to InternationalSpeakersSummit.com but not before you listen to today’s episode.

Hi, it’s James Taylor. He a keynote speaker on creativity and artificial intelligence and the founder of International Speakers Summit. Today I speak with Kathy Gruver. And we talked about how to take the stress out of your speaking different ways to improve your presence on stage and developing resilience in the face of rejection. Enjoy this session. Hey, there is James Taylor. And I’m delighted today to be joined by Kathy Gruver. Kathy Gruver PhD has graced stages on three continents to cruise ships and a handful of islands including TEDx. She hosts a TV show based on her first book The alternative medicine cabinet and has earned her PhD in natural health. Kathy, is the 12 time award winning author of seven books including conquer your stress, workplace wellness, conquer your stress at work and journey of healing. She has studied Mind Body medicine at the famed Boston Henry Institute for Mind Body mess and Harvard, and has been featured as an expert in numerous publications including glamour, time and Dr. Oz is the good life as well as appearing on over 250 radio and TV shows, including lifetime NPR, CBS Radio and Sky News London in 2015. She had the privilege of creating a stress reduction program for the US military and worked to help stop the underground sex trade in her community. For fun and stress relief. Kathy does hip hop and flying trapeze, not something you normally associate speakers as well. So it’s my great pleasure to have Kathy joining us today. So welcome, Kathy.

Kathy Gruver
Oh, thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it.

James Taylor
So share with everyone what’s going on in your world just now.

Kathy Gruver
Yeah, you know, it’s conference season. So I’ve got a lot of travel coming up a lot of really great talks coming up a lot of trapeze coming up with Yeah, it’s, it’s unusual. I just planned my own retreat, a woman’s empowerment retreat. So it’s an experiment. We’ll see how that goes. I think it’s a really good outlet for what I do. So we’re going to do everything from meditation, mindfulness, yoga, dance, trapeze, organic food in an eco resort. So I’m really excited about that. So fingers crossed that it goes the way I expect it to, so

James Taylor
How did you will begin to how did you get involved in the world of speaking specifically?

Kathy Gruver
Yeah, you know, I have a background as an actor. I was a theater major. So being on stage for me was totally natural. And when I moved cross country, I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and when I moved cross country to Hollywood, and then after about 10 years, that quote, didn’t work. So many people were like, Oh, what a waste. And that’s such a shame. And I’m like, but I don’t think anything’s a waste. So I ended up falling back on that massage thing. I’ve been doing massage for 28 years. I don’t know how that’s possible because I’m only 35. So, but you know, I started doing this healing work. And I started working with stress work, and it just sort of built into then I started writing articles. Then I wrote a book and then somebody, I know what it was, I was at one of my first conferences, just as an attendee, and I saw these people up on stage. And I found in my notebook, I would take notes on the right hand page about their content, and notes on the left hand page about them as a speaker, because as a performer, you know, I mean, we’re a little critical, but I was constantly going, Oh, that doesn’t work. And oh, that’s really cool. They’re really funny, and oh, I wouldn’t do that. And I set the goal of I’m going to be on that stage. And it was a natural path conference and they didn’t pay and, you know, but three years later, I found myself on that stage. And that sort of when I realized the blending of the healing and the performing is perfect. So here I am

James Taylor
amazing. And so I’m interested when you were making that transition into from being a being an actor and then into into speaking as well. There’s obviously there’s a lot of things. There’s a lot of similarities on on stage in terms of certain performance things use the body voice blocking and, and stuff like that as well. But what were some of the, the kind of superpowers you managed to have from your your time as an actor that that felt very natural to be able to kind of move in and maybe was something you didn’t necessarily see in other speakers?

Kathy Gruver
Yeah, I think part of it is that storytelling ability, some people specifically based themselves as a storyteller, and I kind of am except that I use the story as the lesson and I realized the more speaking I did, the more people were interested in those stories. And you know, we all have personal stories, we all have a journey, and mine all seem to lead to this really specific conclusion and this nugget of a lesson or a personal Failure which lead to something. And so I found that I just have this ease of storytelling. And because I’m used to acting and using my voice and using my body emojis, I’ll even throw funny voices on if I’m, you know, pretending to be somebody else. So I think that’s one of the things and I think that sense of humor too. I also have I get total I have an ease on stage. Because to me, it’s just I’m just I’m very conversational. I’m very, very down to earth in my in my performance, but you know, in my presentations style, so it’s what did someone say the other day? I’m a West Coast mentality with all the meditation and stuff. And then East Coast delivery. It’s very direct, but it’s very, you know, so that’s my new kind of thing. Don’t anybody take that West Coast mentality with the East Coast delivery? That’s my new that’s my new thing.

James Taylor
So you’re somewhere in the middle of the country

Kathy Gruver
The flyover states.

James Taylor
Yeah. I mean, it’s interesting that because, like you I mean, I come from the deck of the world. I come from World of music and being a drummer and to being very intimidating and sometimes I think sometimes the least stressful part of my job is actually the being on the stage bit. That is the other bits that are more stressful in terms of like getting there. I do all the marketing and blahdy blah and all that stuff as well. And stress. I know a lot of speakers that deal with stress in different kind of ways. But obviously, this is a this is a recurring thing, pretty much every speaker I know of either they have something that they’ve just developed themselves in order to get them in, you know, a place where they can, they can do their best work on stage, or they’ve learned techniques from someone or they’re just almost crippled by it and somehow they just managed to push themselves to the stage and just just gonna get there but they don’t really necessarily enjoy enjoy the process. And so what advice would you give in terms of other speakers how we can better think about stress and maybe manage stress is the idea of managing stress. That’s completely wrong. Should we not even be thinking about managing is we think about something else?

Kathy Gruver
Oh, that’s a really good question. Okay, so we can manage stress to the extent that we can. But the thing is stress is this uncontrollable thing that’s outside of ourselves. If we could handle it, it wouldn’t be stress, it would just be that thing we have to do. So the fact that stress is external to ourselves, and it’s not controllable, we can’t control the flight delay. We can’t control the traffic, we can’t control that the speaker before us went 20 minutes over. And now we get two minutes of our half hour talk to do. You know, we can’t control any of those things. So you can manage stuff, you can get to the airport early, you can have a back up plan, but that’s not going to stop those external things. So to me, the key to stress is really understanding that it’s not the problem because we can’t control it, and then controlling our thoughts about it and our responses to it. And so often, we have a reaction to stress. We have this knee jerk reaction. I did it yesterday morning. I had this sudden panic, that a talk that I’m giving in a couple of weeks. I wasn’t getting any emails on that I didn’t have the template for the PowerPoint that I didn’t have the registration as I just suddenly had this. Oh, and I had this reaction. So what did I do? I emailed the the organizer, and I went, Oh my god, I’m not getting any of that. And I sent it off, and then about 10 minutes later found it all, and went. And I wrote back and I said, I’m so sorry, I’m juggling. I’ve got six conferences in two weeks, please forgive me, and I’m sure I kind of look like a spouse to her. And I don’t normally do that. I normally have the ability to take that pause and respond. And I jumped the gun. I sent her a frantic email. I look like an idiot. I felt stupid. But it was that reminder to me of take a breath. Hang on, go see if what you think is true is true. And then form a response from there and I didn’t I reacted. And we all do that. We all have that reaction, whether it’s something our husband says or it’s the guy on on the freeway, or you know, but that’s what’s in our control is how we respond to these external events. And so much of our stress is in our minds, it’s these things we’re thinking about it’s the past we’re remembering the future we’re ruminating on those what ifs that keep us up at two o’clock in the morning. So that’s the key is recognizing that most of the stress is actually in our in our control internally, but we can’t change that external stuff.

James Taylor
So that little in the internal dialogue I mean, the one the one I was always told was if you’re feeling stressed they’re gonna say I’m feeling stressed saying just say to yourself I’m feeling excited, you know, just I just a little pattern interrupt a thing as well. But what if you’re, you’re you’re know you’re maybe you’re coming up your week or two weeks before your speech and you’re getting really quite anxious about it and you know, you’re kind of having they’re not able to sleep and maybe you’re you’re you’re having this early morning Oh, you know, what if I blank What if I can’t remember my lines? What if, what if something happened? What’s the light the power goes out? What if What if What if What kind of self talk can we can we be doing with ourselves to just come down and and just enjoy enjoy the process more?

Kathy Gruver
Well, here’s my first comment on that and I hope this doesn’t come across as rude but if you’re freaking out that much about speaking, maybe this isn’t the perfection for you. Okay, just throwing that out there I mean because you cuz I mean serious but if but if it’s like if it’s that nerve racking for you. Now I know that fears and phobias come over time I’m working with I do hypnosis as well. And I’m working with a client right now who used to be very comfortable on stage. And over time, he has started to have fears about it, which is really interesting. So we’re gonna we’re gonna go really deep inside and figure that out but but if speakings what you do and you do have that what if thing but if you look at those what ifs James, where are those? Those are in the future. What if the lights go out? What if I blank on my speech? What if I get cut short? What if no one likes it? What if that joke doesn’t land? What if I offend somebody? What that’s all someplace else. That’s someplace else isn’t here yet. What do we have right here is you and me sitting in our prospective offices talking, respective offices talking. So it’s a matter of staying present. And we can do that a couple ways we can meditate. We can do mindfulness practices, we can do breath work. And like you said, basically doing that pattern interrupt of affirmations, I am calm, I am comfortable, I am in control. All of my speaking gigs go smoothly. I am hilarious. And people laugh at every joke that, you know, it’s that anticipatory stress, that actually talking about what stress does, it messes with our memory. It disturbs our cognitive function, so we’re not as on it deals with our immune system. So if we’re so worried about getting sick on the flight, you worried about getting sick on the flight is actually depleting your immune system and you’re gonna be more apt to get sick on the flight. So stress has all these negative things to it. So if we can control that stress, which is basically just staying present Everything’s those things that we’re afraid to get are gonna happen have less of a chance of happening.

James Taylor
And then when we get in so I’m thinking about something I did. When I kind of got started speaking, when I start to feel maybe a little bit nervous about something usually was about the content. For me that was a bit nervous about the particularly the new type of content that I was going to be doing. And I just went full on stoicism Cicero and I said, What is the worst is going to have Okay, I’m gonna imagine the very, very worst that’s going to happen if I totally screw this up. And it was so ridiculous, as I imagined like this is happening and like, really, if that’s the worst that’s gonna happen, then. That’s okay. Yeah, I can recover from that. And it actually, it took away a lot of that stress because I basically I played out of my head the worst it was gonna happen. It really wasn’t that bad. So I can admit, okay, that’s fine. I can come back to it. But then I find a slightly different challenge is this idea about, especially the first few times being up on stage being present on stage. And it just feels I know there’s first time anyone’s spoken will probably feel this like some of these first bit cover speeches you do. It just goes like like that it’s gone. Like what what did I say? I can’t remember
anything about that. And so and then it took me some time I’m still working on it now is like being really more present and and really have feeling the energy of the audience and playing with that and, and doing that doing that sort of thing. But how do we start to kind of get the how do we start to develop our presence? Actually, when when we’re on stage?

Kathy Gruver
I think breathing is fabulous. I mean, that sounds ridiculous, right? We have to brave but there is no. People are really afraid of silence. They don’t want to pause. And what I just do, I not pretended. But I took that moment to formulate my words that actually sucks people in because if I wait then people suddenly go Wait, What’s she gonna say now? You look panicked if you that’s a very different look. That’s six people in a different way. That’s Oh, crap, she forgot what she was doing. And you’re flipping through notes and you’re looking at you know, that’s, that’s chaos, that’s adding stress to it. But it’s totally okay to pause for a minute and have that silence. Because, you know, you played music, what makes the music music is those spaces in between notes. And it’s totally okay to vary your tempo, to slow down to speed up and get really excited and then drop it back down. And that’s where that actor thing comes in. And on stage, I think about that, I think, where am I going to speed up? Where am I going to get louder? Where am I going to get a little and then where can I drop that back down. And in that slowing myself down, I have the ability to reconnect with the audience, because they slow down and they kind of lean in and you can see their expression change when you vary your tone, your temper your speed. All of that stuff. So I think that connecting with the audience is really about just being aware of how you’re saying what you’re saying. And being comfortable just stepping back for a second and taking that pause. And I remember years ago, we have something here in Santa Barbara called mind, super mind. And these are thought leaders and people who would come and they would do an evening I think they did like three or four a year. And I can’t remember who it was. It was somebody like Christiane Northrup, or someone who was, was a very powerful Female Speaker until like female empowerment and health and spirituality and stuff like that. And she walked out on stage, and everybody clapped and she sat on the chair. And she must have sat there for three minutes. Just sitting there, and we were all so like, sucked into what is she? What is she gonna say, you know, and you could see like 150 people leaning in simultaneously to see that commanded so much power. And I think so many people are so afraid to be silent on Stage because it’s really scary. It’s really naked. It’s very vulnerable. Just try it and see what happens. It’s a really interesting technique. It’s a really interesting technique and it sucks you back in with them. And I also I’m, I’m all about meeting people’s eyes when I’m speaking. And you can tell who in the audience is up for that and who’s not because they’ll turn away or they’ll keep meeting your eyes, I tend to go back to that person to get it again. So by the end, I’m like, I’m sorry, I’m picking on you. So, you know, but it’s like and if you’re not comfortable meeting their eyes then kind of look over their heads. That’s the trick without from the acting thing. But um, but yeah, it really is about just taking that pause and consciously reconnecting with them. And then yeah, the talks gonna fly by and later, you’re gonna watch the video and go, I was fabulous.

James Taylor
And essentially, I mean, I was I was watching two talks recently, actually, I went to one attended one i was i was a guest at an event and it was your former president, President present Obama. That was the keynote speaker at it. And the thing that Putting politics aside, the thing that was very interesting for me, for him as an orator is his use of pacing and pausing, you know, quite deliberate, you know, and if I probably if I worked out how many words per minute it would be quite low. And so I experimented with that just in my own speaking at certain stages, if I wanted to add more like power, more weight to something, I almost couldn’t have thought of that timing. And then I listened to another speech recently, Oprah Winfrey’s one that she did for the Golden Globe Awards, amazing speech, and especially towards the opening of that speech. And also towards the end of the speech, she uses some certain gift devices and certain ways in terms of rhythm and timbre and everything I thought, I really liked that I really like how, how she’s kind of used, and I get kind of like stuff, experimenting with some of those things couldn’t be mine. And I think this is where you start to once you know your your material, your content material. This is the things that act as like a really, really good app is being able to then That fine tuning being able to just get all the nuances really pull everything out of that that story to help help your brain so you mentioned going quiet going into the audience you know you losing as well one of the things I’m most fascinated with if I go and see theater is how it always feels that actors are much better the use of their bodies on stages than than speakers speakers and I put my I kept myself but you kind of end up going into these kind of like quite static more like no kind of things powered by their power poses or whatever the term is for them. But you can you have you can set things and I will see what like the great actors I see on stage are great performers musicians as well. There’s there’s a there’s a fluidity this additional real naturalness as well. That must be trained that must be not something you can you immediately can come out of the box with

Kathy Gruver
That’s a tough one for me to comment on because I shot out of the womb and my mother strapped ballet shoes to my feet. So and my dad had handed me a football so I was a very confused child. You know, I’ve been using my bodies since I was three or four, because I grew up as a dancer, so I’m very comfortable on stage. I’m very comfortable in my movements. There’s also just some people who are comfortable in their body. And then there’s those who aren’t who are constantly tripping bumping into things, knocking things over. They, like their limbs aren’t like that baby fall, the cult that tries to walk for the first time, they just sort of fall over. I mean, that’s just some people just aren’t kinetic, they’re just not connected in their body. So that is something that can be trained. But yeah, I mean, one of the things that, you know, I was a theater major, and our choice was we either had to take downs, or we had to take movement, movement classes, and whether that was stage combat, or blocking or using our bodies in a certain way. But yeah, totally I have, you know, I’m very animated when I talk. And so someone could take 300 pictures of me and I’m always kind of like going, like I’m always looking for headlines because I’m always making these weird faces. But it’s so funny because I tend to do this a lot. And so I have all these pictures will be Doing this and it’s like, I kind of stopped doing that, because it’s like, My face looks fine. But I’m, I don’t know what I’m measuring, but I’m parallely measuring something. So you’re right. I mean, we do get kind of locked into these physical things. And that can be really distracting because I watched an amazing keynote at a conference. And she kept and I can’t demonstrate because I’m sitting down, but she kept kind of like, hitting her hips like this. And I’m thinking, why did she keep doing that, and then she kind of let her hands bounce up, and I’m like, it was just distracting. So I don’t know if someone blocked that for her, or if that was a natural movement for her. But I was very aware of going, whoo, that’s jarring to me. You know, she’s talking about this very emotional thing of, I’m not gonna, you know, I’m not gonna mention any of that. But it’s like, she was telling this emotional thing, but she kept doing these violent movements. And when I coach other speakers, I work with the pacing, but I also work with when is the time to gesture, you know, because if you mute somebody, and they’ve done with this with politicians and they’ve had body language Experts analyze their gestures and their hand movements and their facial expressions. And it’s fascinating to see unconsciously how we look at those movements and what they communicate to us. Yeah. So yeah, I’m gonna stop measuring things. And I want this woman to stop banging on her hips like she’s trying to mate. I don’t know what she was doing.

James Taylor
The one we had Mark Bowden is a great body language expert here on the summit, and he was a lot of politicians as well. He’s great speaker. We also watch a lot of politicians. And one of the ones he said to me was, he said, one thing is some speakers can do is they can do the pointing thing a lot with, you know, pointing in the audience. And he said, what they’ve The reason, actually Bill Clinton and Bill Clinton’s speaker training or for speeches that he got, he was he had this terrible habit of pointing and pointing at people and putting on your speaking it could be quite an aggressive kind of move. Like I’m telling you this kind of wagging your finger. And so he was told, do this. And now this this thing here that you see all the time. But I speak by every port if you watch CNN, a TV show, if you’ll see politicians using this a lot, and that comes back to the body in language expert that trained Clinton and Clinton started doing this rather than the finger is also we start seeing all these things happening all the time. I’m one of the things that you I know you’ve spoken about before is I can move to like future pacing or or how you can use your incredible imagination, your visualization abilities that we have as human beings with the brain that we’ve got to really help you achieve your goals, your goals as a speaker. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Kathy Gruver
Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the first things is we have to be clear on what we want. And we can’t just say I want success. Because what does that mean? I mean, Success to me might mean something very different than to you than to everybody else. So I think it’s really important to pinpoint those goals. And numbers are very symbolic. our subconscious totally understands numbers. So put a number on it. I want to do 30 paid talks this year. Or I will do you want to put it in the present tense? I do. I am hired for 30 paid talks this year. Okay, what is paid mean? Just paid me they give you a chicken sandwich for lunch does paid me and you get 10 grand does paid mean, you know, really make it specific and then then ask for it. Now, as my husband said the other night, you can sit around and visualize till you’re blue in the face, you still have to work at it. So you still have to be good at what you do. You still have to put it out there. You know, you can’t sit at home and visualize the perfect spouse and then hope it’s the UPS guy because you never leave the house. You know, you actually have to go out and do the work. But I think oftentimes we get so vague in these that I want success. I want to be a speaker. Okay, what does that mean? And I remember during my acting days, I was doing this manifestation thing and this visualization these affirmations of I want to be a paid actor. I want to be a paid actor. I’m gonna be a paid actor. I am a paid actor. I was doing this whole thing. And I got a gig. I got a touring children’s company and I was so excited. It paid $7 an hour,

James Taylor
you did a bit more specificity.

Kathy Gruver
Okay, that’s not what I was going for. I want to be a six, you know, but it’s like, but I got what I wanted. Yeah, I got what I wanted. You know if your horoscope in the morning paper says you will get in prosperity today and you find a penny on the street, it was kind of right. So you know, the more specific you are. And here’s the cool thing about our brain, we can’t tell the difference between what we’re thinking about and imagining, and what is actually happening. So this is why when we’re having those negative fantasies about the future when we’re dwelling in the past and remembering that awful thing, when we’re telling that story again and again and again about the jerk that cut us off on the freeway, what we’re doing is actually completely re triggering that fight or flight response, which we don’t need. It’s really detrimental to our health to our memory to our like I said cognitive function, all this stuff. So when we’re fantasizing about the future, make it positive. Because if not, let’s say you’re going for a A job interview or speaker interview, you’re about to have this interview on the phone with this fabulous meeting player, you want this so bad. And this is your inner dialogue. Oh, man, you know, I don’t know if I’m actually qualified for this. And they’re probably not going to have enough money to pay me. And you know, they probably want a guy because they wanted a sports figure, and I’m not really a sports figure, I’m just a trapeze person, what the heck do I know and I don’t really look like my picture. And maybe I’m not as funny. And I’m probably gonna have a bad hair day cuz it’s raining. And, you know, if that’s how you’re going into that phone call, just hang up, because you’re probably not going to get it. I mean, just because you’re worked yourself up into this negative space, where you’re going to get on the phone with her expecting to hear no, and you’re going to in some very subconscious way, or sometimes conscious way. Create that for yourself. Whereas if you think ahead of time, oh my gosh, this is gonna be the best phone conversation and she’s gonna love me, and I’m gonna have the best hair day ever. And we’re going to have this great rapport and we’re going to have a fun conversation and she’s going to be so excited to hire me. She might even give me more money than I asked for. And you know, if you build that up, if nothing else, you go in with such enthusiasm with such excitement with such presence of mind, the interview is going to turn out better. But here’s the other thing, even if you don’t get it, you’re going to be better equipped to handle the not getting it. You know, if you’re already so stressed, you’re at an eight and upset and they say no, and you shoot off the church to a 12. And now they’re never gonna hire you again, because you reacted like a giant baby. If you go in at a stress level of two, and you start to react and maybe you go to a four, that’s still manageable, that’s still like, Oh, I’m so disappointed. You know, maybe, maybe in the future, we can work together again, as opposed to Oh, okay, well, great. You know, it’s like, it’s gonna change how you react and respond to these things. So going into a situation fantasizing about the most positive outcome is going to present you better. Same thing on stage, you’re going to present so much better if you go in thinking this is gonna be the best speech ever.

James Taylor
And he said that on the visualization. I you As well, if I bizarrely I found, I have lost a little post it notes around my goals and things that I’m wanting to do. And my usual approach to these things is, I will write, think about them. If I want to write them down, this is something I want to do. But then I will figure out a way of not becoming overly attached to the thing. So I’ll give you an example. One of the ones was to speak NSA, I actually have a note I found areas of my board, which is speak at NSA convention. And this year, you and I, we both spoke at the NSA winter winter conference, which was great. But here’s what I what I did is I use my imagination for thinking about that. But I don’t get overly attached to that as being the outcome. Instead, what I get really, really attached to and not really attached, but really think about is, well, what are the rituals and the daily things I need to be doing each day in my practice and in my work, in order that that will be it’ll just be it’ll be a natural repercussion of doing that. So for me, it was Working on my keynote for me, it was having conversations other great speakers. For me, it was outreach to meeting planners every day. So those are actually extremely structured. In my week, I’ve got really focused on trying to do those things by doing get, particularly if again, after the speech happens, it’s fine. The other one I was told, which has made life a hell of a lot easier is visualize what it would look like if it was easy. And it was an interesting one, because then it made me think it was and building a business or speaking, like, Okay, what would that look like? What if being a like a wizard, international keynote speaker, whatever your thing is? What if it was easy? What if it was easy, and I’m thinking about it just now and it actually very quickly creates a very quick through line to what you’re trying to achieve and, and district distresses as well. So those are just some of the things I just heard from my experience of how I use. I’ve used visualization and use kind of goal setting in that way. as well. So I’m guessing your, your journey through speaking and you’ve had ups and downs and different things as you built your speaking career. Can you talk about maybe a key insight or a lightbulb moment where you went, Okay, this is the direction I want to go with my speaking or this is who I want to serve with my speaking or you just made a very important discovery yourself and your work as a speaker.

Kathy Gruver
You know, it’s tough because I’m still traveling this journey. I mean, I am in no way an established speaker yet. I mean, I’ve done tons of gigs. And like I said, I got to speak at NSA, which was such a huge honor. That was gigantic. I got to do a TEDx, which was huge. I’ve gotten to travel all over the place, but I’m not where I want to be with my rights. I’m not where I want to be with who I’m speaking to yet. And I think it’s a constant exploration of Who are you? And who is your audience? Because you don’t stress Oh, my God, I can talk to anybody. I can talk to school kids. I can talk to teachers. I could talk to parents. I could talk to nurses. I could talk to you know Like, my audience really is endless. And I remember when I was writing my dissertation, my advisor said, narrow, and I went, Oh, but it’s already so narrow. She goes, No, no narrow. And I said, but now it’s too narrow. She’s like up three more narrows. By the time I had this teeny little thing, and I thought I’ll never be able to find enough research on this 165 pages later, you know, and there is that fear, though in Oh, but if I only speak to 911 dispatchers, what happens when I run out of 911 dispatcher? You know, we we do have that fear of limiting ourselves. But if you look at TV, I mean, if you’re a Seinfeld fan, you know, we all know who George Costanza is, and no matter what role he does now, he’s George Costanza. I mean, that’s just that’s all we see. But that’s okay. Because he was a damn good George Costanza, you know? But they know that getting that typecast thing. We’re so afraid of that but that is how so many successful people made their living. You know, if you look at really big well known speakers, they’re not going out and just doing anything for anybody. Yeah, they do have that laser focus. So that’s one of the things I’m working on right now is honing down. I’m ripping apart my website. Again, I’m you know, I’m redoing all my material. And I’m really trying to figure out what are the words I want to use? Because stress kind of isn’t doing it anymore. Three years ago, everybody wanted stress. Now everybody wants mindset, corporate culture, emotional intelligence. So it’s like I’m having to change. It’s not really changing my talk, but it’s changing the way I’m phrasing it, so that people go, Oh, we want her. And I think the biggest one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned, and I actually mentioned this in my little five minute talk for NSA is, yeah, we’re all on this path. And occasionally we look over and we see somebody else go other speaker to Oh, thank God, I can totally commiserate with them. But we get really jealous of other people’s paths, we get really judgy of other people. paths. And I have a dear friend of mine who he put a book on Amazon. It wasn’t even available yet. It was just literally the thumbnail. And a giant corporation saw the book called him and said we’d like to give you $20,000 to do our keynote. He’s never been on stage before. And he calls me and says, I don’t know what to do. And I’m thinking, geez, I kind of don’t know what to do. I mean, like, I’ve not gotten $20,000 working. I haven’t, you know, I’m not there yet. And so I helped him with a contract. I helped them with the negotiations thinking, I haven’t even done this for myself yet. He got three more spin offs from that gag at 20,000 apiece. And this morning, I’m talking to him and he goes, Oh, yeah, I just got a call from a bureau to send them my stuff. And I’m thinking, ah, because I’ve been working so hard at that, and him seemingly with complete ease, just got it and I was so happy for him. But there was also that sort of petty jealous childish frustration of why am I not getting that? You know, and I sat back and went, Okay, let’s pause. And let’s think about this. I don’t know what his path is. I don’t know what his journey is. I don’t know what the end game for him is, frankly, I don’t even know what it is for me. But I can’t compare myself to his journey. I can’t compare myself to his success and or failures. Because I also know his entire life has not been a walk in the park. Nobody else has. But it was just this clear thing to me of crap. I thought I was over all that you know, I thought I was over that that little hurt kid thing that happened when you were rejected so much as an actor. So it really it bubbled that like pain body back up for me and I went, What a great experience. Now I can deal with this in a different way. And what can I learn from him that helps skyrocket my career a little bit more. So it was it was frustrating, but it was really interesting and I’m really glad I I’m, I’m glad I felt that because to me if a negative thing comes up. What is the last I learned from that I don’t want to hang on to it. And you’re probably the only person I’ll tell that to you and I’m done with that story. But what can I get out of that? What positive Can I pull out of that emotion that I was having?

James Taylor
So you mentioned a word there rejection. Now actors of any profession actors probably have the highest levels of rejection because you know, and it’s it’s it’s just part of the of the industry part of the trade of doing that job as well. Did that help you when it came to when you’re, you’re speaking with meeting plans, event professionals for the conference, and you don’t get to win every every gig. Did that help? Having had rejections as an actor so you’ve kind of built in some kind of resilience in yourself?

Kathy Gruver
Yeah. Massively, you know, I mean, it’s still never feels good. No One No one has ever like Yea, they said, No. Sometimes I question why they’ve said No, and I do a lot of submissions through things like you know, speakers and speaker magic where you don’t really get to have that one on one contact with them. And it’ll just To say, declined, and I’m like, ah, why? Because I want to, I want to be better. And if it was, maybe they didn’t like my video. Maybe they didn’t like maybe I look like their cousin who they hate. Maybe they booked it already. Maybe they change the theme. You know, you never know why. And even if someone says you, you really suck, we’re not hiring you. If you’re confident in what you do, if they say you suck, you kind of go alright. I don’t think I do. Most people don’t think I do. But I’ll take that and, or you follow that up with but what about it sucked? Oh, well, the way you phrased that in your proposal. Ah, okay. So I don’t suck. That thing I wrote sucked, you know. So it’s like, I think if you can have feedback from people, I mean, it’s fabulous. Sometimes it hurts. It’ll I hate it. I hate ripping apart my videos and get it you know, because you do want to think everything you do is fabulous. And I know it’s not and I’ve directed theater, where I have had to actually shred actors a part to get them to give me what I need in that role, and I’ve had it done to me That’s the process of getting better, if everybody just thinks you’re perfect, and you know, they won’t give you any negative feedback, then you’re not going to grow as, as a speaker as a performer, as a marketer, as a wife as a, you know any of that. So that’s where that constructive criticism comes in. And you have to learn to take that. And because we are wired as humans, to respond to negative things faster than positive things. So if you’re about to cross the street, and I go, No, you’re our brain picks it up quickly and responds because it’s for your safety. So we’re actually wired to respond to negative things more than positive things. So if I tell you 30 things that were great about your talk, and then I end with Well, I mean, that one joke kind of fell short. What are you going to hear? That’s what I’m gonna focus on. Because one, you know, it just we think we’re fabulous, which we are, but you know, we hear that one negative thing in our brain goes, Danger, danger, danger. Something’s Didn’t you know, we’re actually wired that way? That was one of the studies I found in my dissertation. So that’s the problem is shutting that part of the brain off and going, hang on? Why did it not work? And you have to be confident enough and have the balls enough to ask someone. Okay, I’m going to take office, tell me why, you know?

James Taylor
Yeah. The way I’ve always, not always, but more recently done this, especially with my team. So I have a team that does a lot of the outreach for potential speaking gigs, is, you know, when they were starting to feel like they were getting rejection on certain things when hiring or they were only closing a certain amount of our, our business. And I said, well, let’s just why don’t we just focus on on the numbers. And so we know our numbers really clearly how many people that we need to get to watch that video that speak of video. And then of those people, how many people we need to get on it on a call and all those calls, how many we need to convert and then and you can you can go on from there. And I said, let’s just let’s just get to like geeky. Let’s get up Like that you would be going if you’re sitting playing a computer game or something, and you’re just trying, how can I get that number up? And so what that does is and this only I appreciate this only work for some people that like think this way, but for us ended up becoming more of a game. So we knew that we like had, we had to do a certain number that we wanted to do every week or every month. And we knew and we kind of just got like, Well why is it that why are we only converting on that when that campaign where we could be so we approach it more like almost like scientists were experimenting with stuff and knowing it was gonna fail, but that’s fine. And but we were just trying to find the things then as quickly as possible kill the things that definitely weren’t working and won’t bring it anywhere. So what about your circle in your you’re kind of speaking now, and I’m interested in are there any kind of tools or apps or online resources that you find really useful for yourself as a speaker,

Kathy Gruver
you know, I’m going to open up an actual appointment book girl and just write it down. I can tell you my new frustration with technology is people are now forcing you to adopt certain technologies which kind of drives me crazy because I don’t want to. So like right now I’m, we’re I’m in speaking at five different conferences where their main way of communicating is Facebook Messenger. I don’t want to be on Facebook all day and the problem with that is you know, you send 30 put 30 people on that link. And every time somebody comments boop, boop, boop, boop, boop, boop, boop, it propagates more messages. So I literally spent like seven minutes the other day scrolling through gifts and funny comments and people doing before I found out that they needed my bio. Just email me and tell me, Kathy, I need your bio. Like, I don’t want I don’t have time for that. I still have a full time job as well as all the speaking stuff. So. So it’s like, forcing people into adapting technology. And we talked about this at the power women at the NSA. We broke up into little groups during our morning session and talked about that and that was one of the things we all kind of went I don’t Want to use your scheduling program or I don’t want to use your new video programmer, I don’t want to, you know, and so many people now are kind of forcing you into that. And I’ve been doing tons of video interviews where you have to use a certain, not only a certain program, but it has to be through a certain browser, and I don’t have that one and my laptop’s full and, you know, so this is actually to me, one of the downsides of technology is there’s so much happening so quickly, that I personally can’t keep up. And I am definitely not technical. I’m not technologically challenged. I love technology. I am excited about technology, but so much of it is being thrown at us at once. And there’s so many different things are being thrown at us at once. That I think it’s overwhelming for a lot of people. Yeah, even people younger than me who grew up with us, you

James Taylor
know, I’m in this camp as well. I’m thinking about I’m doing one booking just now with people in Singapore. And it’s we’re using what’s the community primarily communicating by WhatsApp. I’m doing something else in Russia, and they’re using telegram, which I never use. My British clients and American clients, they’ve used them messenger and they’re using email and they’re using all other slack. I’m doing one thing, I’m to beat using slack for it. And I know you could feel overwhelmed a little bit you know, and sometimes that frankly, is old school getting on a phone, a phone, and you can get I’ve got a call later on today. And it was all these threads were going and finally I just had to say, Can we just do a call? Can we just like do this one call or we could just get get all this stuff done? And I don’t have to see all these gifts of cat pictures as much as I love cats, but I’d love to see anybody get cabbages.

Kathy Gruver
Exactly. That’s that’s my point. You know, because Yeah, I don’t want to have to dig through all that. And frankly, I don’t want to be on Facebook all the time. Because one, it’s a time sock. And two, I get into what’s happening with my government right now. And then I start to lose my mind. And then you know, so I don’t want to have to have Facebook on all the time. But now I feel like I do. Because I turn it on. I’ve got 30 notifications, but now I can’t tell what is my friends lunch? What is my friends sharing her friends, friends lunch? What is actual business that I have to do? And so I’m now forced to adopt some of these things. And that would be fine if I wasn’t forced to adopt 30 things. Yeah, but yeah, I got Twitter and I got LinkedIn, I got fat and I you know, it’s like, ah, someone just texted me Do we still do that?

James Taylor
You know, but what if we go to like 17th century technology that’s what books What is your favorite favorite book that that you’ve really made me go a lot from it could be on speaking could be on we’ll be talking about a lot today which is presence and, and think about stress as well. What would that be you’d recommend?

Kathy Gruver
Yeah, you know, I love Eckhart Tolle. Work. I’ve not only read his books, I’ve listened. I’m in some of his audio programs right now. I really did like Brendon Burchard stuff, too, is the idea of the funnels. And you know, that was kind of the first. I was always resistant to this. I’m not, I shouldn’t say I’m not a good salesperson, because I mean, we all have to be, but that selling from the stage thing, I always really shied away from that to the point where I’d get to the end of my talk, and I’d see my husband in the back holding up my book and going tell them you have our book. I mean, it was like I was so into giving information. I forgot I was there to actually sell books, you know, so I had to remind myself of that, and somehow I got connected with Brendon Burchard stuff, and it was it triggered enough in me that I went, Okay, let’s take this to the next step. So I think from a business perspective, you know, I’m reading a bunch of stuff now. Because I want to learn from other speakers who have had that me To me, it’s like I want to learn constantly. I would be back in school if I could. So I love deck artola stuff. Carolyn mace was one of my people back in the day and Louise Hay that kind of stuff but but i think i think there has to be a spiritual. I don’t mean religious, but there has to be some sort of connectivity base under all this business that we do. And I think that’s one of the reasons why presence is so important. And 2016 was the year of mindfulness, and a lot of people on what the heck’s that and I don’t want to meditate, and you know, they’re to type A, they’re too driven. They’re too whatever it is, and it’s like, but I now see a benefit to that. Because I’m very type A and I’m very driven, and I’m very East Coast, and I’m very, but I found that through that presence, through that mindfulness, it has allowed me to be so much more successful, and handle it’s so much better when I don’t find a success. So it’s just it’s it’s all around all around a good thing. And

James Taylor
there’s two examples you gave of a car and Brendan, totally different types of speakers. The the violence age is completely different. And Brendan is an absolute master. It comes from selling from the stage and especially online programming. He’s brilliant at that stuff as well. A car is really much more about can Unity comes after obviously the Louise Hay Hay House kind of model as well, but they’re both brilliant. They’ve kind of chosen their thing. And and they’ve committed to it, you know, 100% as well, which I love about the both. What about a final question for let’s imagine you woke up tomorrow morning and you have to start from scratch. So you’ve got all the knowledge you’ve acquired over the years, you’re I think you’re speaking, but no one knows you. You know, no one you have to restart. What would you do? How would you restart things?

Kathy Gruver
Oh, go back to bed now. Um, you know, I think the first thing is, to quote Michelle villa-lobos, you’ve got to have your back end in order. And you know, I didn’t do that. At the time. I just launched in I went, I’m a speaker and I had a couple books, but especially when you’re starting out and you are doing free speaking, selling the $15 book, at that point was a $10 book, the back of the room isn’t going to sustain you financially. I think I would have my website better when I started, I would have my online programs together. I’m a little behind the eight ball on that because I was so resistant to, I don’t want to sell. And now as I’ve gone through this journey over the last two or three years, I’ve realized, you kind of have to, you know, I’m seeing less and less. And this could just be me in my field, but I’m seeing less and less well paid speaking engagements. I’m seeing more people that want to give you a really low rate, but we’ll let you sell from the stage at the Angela let you make that offer. And I never had an offer to make. And I think had I started with a stronger offer had I started with my online course if I had that stuff in line. When I was doing all those magazine and radio interviews, I told a publicist I was working with I said, I want to be on the Today Show. It’ll be on Good Morning, America, I want to be on and he looked at me, he said, Why? And I said, Well, why wouldn’t I want to be on the show? And he goes, do you remember anybody that wasn’t famous that you ever saw on Good Morning America? And I said, No, he goes, Okay, so let’s say you’re on Good Morning America and you have your $10 book, and people love you and they go to your website, they buy your $10 book. Now what
I want now what, what I wasn’t getting what he was saying. He said, You need to not only have the $10 book, you need to have the $30 module with tapes, and then you need the $160. And then you need the $10,000. He said, What is the point of wasting that opportunity to get in front of millions of Americans? If you have no reason? They’re going to stick with you over the years. And I went, Oh, you know, it suddenly struck me and I meet so many people who are like, I want to do radio and TV to which I now say, Why, yes, it helps your credibility. I mean, I’ve done hundreds of radio and TV shows hundreds of magazine interviews, and that has absolutely helped my credibility as an international expert. But I think had I had more to offer on the back end ahead of time, I think it would have been an easier journey. So now I feel like I’m kind of going back to square one and how To start again, it’s a little frustrating

James Taylor
and if people want to like learn more about you connect with you maybe they’re speaking or something and they they know there’s a spot there and they want to bring in someone that speaks about the topics that you speak about as well especially around presence and what’s the best way for them to to connect with you?

Kathy Gruver
Yeah, you know, I’m on all the social media because I have to be and Kathy groover calm is the best and there’s all my books and my topics and all my stuff there so that’s probably the best Kathy groover calm and there’s a contact me there form as well.

James Taylor
Well, Kathy’s been a pleasure speaking to you today and learning a little bit more I feel I should still be distressed actually after this call. I’ve got a surprising feeling pretty chilled now. Thanks so much for coming on. I wish you all the best with your speaking

Kathy Gruver
thanks so much.

James Taylor
Today’s episode was sponsored by speakers you the online community for speakers and if you’re serious about your speaking career then you can join us because you membership program. I’ll speak as you members receive private one on one coaching with me hundreds of hours of training content access to a global community to help them launch and build a profitable business around their speaking message and expertise. So just head over to SpeakersU.com to learn more

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