Ep #70: Does Thinking Bigger Really Work as a Speaker?

by | Podcast

Do you HAVE to think bigger in order to be successful as a speaker? 

And if so, where DOES thinking big fit into this whole speaking and business growth path we are on?  

Does it activate some kind of magic in the universe? 

And what happens when your big vision or dream takes a complete left turn and you realize your vision wasn’t really wanted at all? 

In this week’s podcast episode, we're talk all about thinking bigger in your thought leadership and your business growth. 

We’ll be exploring the question “Do you HAVE to think bigger in order to be successful as a speaker?” – and my Thought Leader friends, where we end up might surprise you.

Plus I'll be sharing what I've seen work amazingly well for successful speakers I work with, so be sure to tune in ?

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • What do we mean by thinking bigger and is there another way to look at it that would be more useful and helpful for speakers
  • The answer to the question “Do you HAVE to think bigger in order to be successful as a speaker?”
  • What I've seen work amazingly well for successful speakers (the answer might surprise you!)
  • The most important indicator that lets you know you are made to speak on big stages
  • Why having a big vision works for you… even when things go significantly different than you planned

Listen to the Full Episode:

Full Episode Transcript:

Come to The Thought Leadership School Podcast. If you're on a mission to make a difference in the world with your message, you are in the right place. I'm Michelle Barry Franco and I'm thrilled that you're here. Hello. Hello. My Thought Leader friends. How are you? I am taking a break from packing for another trip. I leave tomorrow morning for San Diego. Beautiful San Diego. I'm super looking forward to being there and the beach and we have beaches near me about 20 minutes away, so I get to go to the beach reasonably frequently, but the beaches in San Diego are warmer and different, so I'm just really looking forward to it. Plus the event that I'm going to, which is Finish Strong. Susan Hyatt puts on this event each year. This is her second year anyway, and I went last year and it was really fun the first night. So tomorrow night we actually meet on a yacht and we have a party on a yacht and it is really fun.

Last time we danced, which, you know, unless I get invited to a wedding, I rarely get to dance anymore. And I love, love, love to dance. So I'm excited about that part. I'm less excited about getting fancy and finding the right dress. So I did all of that and you know, doing my hair and I don't love that. Even though there is a significant amount of that in the speaker life, it's not my favorite. However, this time, because this is just such a fun and Susan high, it has this energy that's like, come on, it's going to be great. Let's sparkle it up. So I got my nails done and they're extra fancy this time. And I gotta say every time I look at them I get a little giddy. So maybe there's a glimmer in there for me around this getting ready and glammed up thing.

But that's not what we're here to talk about this week. What we're here to talk about this week is thinking bigger and I really want to explore and that's really what this episode is going to be about. This isn't about me saying you need to think bigger or you should stop thinking bigger. I really think this topic has a lot more room and spaciousness in it and I think there's a new window we can look through around this idea of thinking bigger that might be extra helpful for your Thought Leadership, your business growth. So I'm excited to dive in. Last week we had Dr. Angela Lauria on the podcast.I hope you listened to that interview. She's such an amazing storyteller. She tells us the story about how she started actually, she started even before this with writing all these books and not even knowing how she got into this position of ghost writing all kinds of books about windows servers and espionage and that's how her writing career started.

But she thought of it like this babysitting job because it just kind of came to her and the books kept coming to her and so she never really recognized what an expert she was at writing these books, how valuable this skill was. And then she tells the story about getting down to no money, credit cards cutoff, how am I going to feed my kid kind of thing. And then how she went from that to now running an eight figure business, helping other people write books and growing. It's growing just exponentially every year. So it's an exciting story. What's really cool and what I want you to pay special attention to as she tells a story, is how she tells her story because it is an amazing example of a person, a Thought Leader who deeply, intimately understands her audience and through that understanding of her audience, she can tell her own story in a way that resonates so powerfully.

And you'll hear me laugh out loud at certain points that seemed kind of inappropriate. But that's what happens when your audience over identify, not over identify as really identifies with the story that you're telling. It's like, Oh my gosh, I can't believe you're telling my story right now. And various forms. So it's wonderful storytelling. The other thing and the thing most relevant to today's topic is Angela. Dr Angela is a big thinker. She just thinks really big. She has a big amazing idea and then she takes some action on it. And having been in her world for the last number of years, I've seen her do it over and over again. And it's also a theme that I see with most of my really successful clients. They have ideas and then they take action on them. They don't get a lot of thinking around it.

So as we dive into this topic of thinking bigger, I just want you to have this in mind. What do we mean by thinking bigger and is there another way to look at it that would be most useful and helpful for us? So that's really what we're going to explore today. So one part of the story that Dr. Angela tells in the beginning, she tells a lot of stories throughout this podcast, but she talks about a time she's at a workshop and her coach gives them the assignment to interview each other. You know, the cohort to get into pairs and interview each other and they're going to ask each other. Basically they're interviewing them 10 years from now. And asking questions around, how did you get here? How did you create this successful life? What did you do and what's your life like now?

So she's doing this exercise with her friend and she still remembers the person's name and she said it was the most effortless thing. She just starts, you know, sharing, here's where I live, here's what I've built. And the reason I'm bringing that back up without telling you the whole story again is as we think about thinking bigger and this question does thinking bigger actually, does it help us realize our goals? Is it required that we think bigger in order to, you know, be successful as a speaker, a Thought Leader, business leader. And I think this question is so interesting and it really came to me as I was listening to Angela tell this story. Like was it because she dreamed up this whole scenario that set her on this success path after so many failures or was that going to happen anyway? You know, and we can't really ever know that.

Right? How do we know it's like that movie sliding doors, you know like that you miss the train and one thing happens. You catch the train in a totally different thing happens. But I think it's interesting to think about this whole idea of thinking bigger. You hear about it all the time. You hear that, you know if you build it, they will come. That if you, you know, create a vision board that you'll be able to manifest the things on that vision board and you hear these amazing stories. I remember hearing one, the man who was telling the story had put this picture of a house on his vision board and then moved and the boxes were in storage or something and they came out years later he takes at the vision board, looks at it and you see where this is going. The picture of the house was actually the house he had purchased and that he was living in.

So there are some really fun stories out there about thinking bigger and then manifesting these kinds of things in your life. I don't know what I think of the, you know, whether or not we can manifest things. I do believe that when we put our attention on something and we get excited about it and we take a lot of action, that really cool things can happen. So there's a little sort of prelude to the way I think about thinking bigger, but I think this question, does it activate some kind of magic in the universe when we think bigger is a really cool one to ask. I had a call today with a woman who is in the early stages of building a new business, but she's built a number of businesses before and had a really impressive career. She's a regular speaker. She does get paid, not highly paid.

She gets paid more on the stipend range, but she hasn't cracked the nut. As I've heard a number of people describe it around how to make money speaking especially as a paid speaker. So she feels a lot of confusion around that. But here is what's crystal clear to her. I could feel it in her body. When I asked her, you know, what do you imagine when you think about speaking, what does that picture for you? Describe it for me. And she just like fell right into her body and like this very grounded way and said, I see myself on a stage, I don't even know exactly what I'm saying, but I'm on a stage and there are thousands of people in the audience and I'm just there delivering a message that's of great service to them. It's so beautiful. Every time I hear a version of this, just my whole heart lights up, I can see that truth in it, in her face and in her body.

So we finished having the call, we'd talk about strategies for getting paid, speaking. We also, of course, because I can't help it, we talk about the power of using, speaking as a beautiful natural client, magnetizing approach so that you can serve them in a much bigger way through services and offerings and make more money in many cases than if you were to get paid speaking. So we talked about all those things and it was a lovely call. So then I get on another call and guess what? The next person I had a call with today said to me almost verbatim. She said, I have this vision. It's crystal clear on my mind. I'm standing on this stage and I can see that there's a huge audience out there and I'm just standing there and I can feel the light on me. And I must've just said something funny because everybody's laughing.

So she had that little extra level of detail. But the same thing, I see myself standing on a stage inspiring this whole room full of people. Listen to me, my friend, I cannot tell you how many times I hear that from people, and I believe this is one of the most pervasive, one of my most common signs that I get to see for those of us who are made for this kind of work, these kinds of dreams. I think they rise up in us through yes, through our life experience. Yes, through the expertise that we gather. But there's something else and that's something else is that call. So it's in there and it does bring us to, in many cases these big visions, right? This big thinking. Now just in case you're one of my beloved clients are, you know, people who are in my world who don't envision that big stage.

I hear you. I feel you. You're not alone. Everyone doesn't imagine a big stage. I usually don't, whenever I've imagined this, I don't really like, I'm much more like picture of living room like this beautiful. I mean it's a really nice one and it's a big one and there's like 12 people in the room and there's gorgeous sunlight's streaming in through the window. And I'm facilitating. So I'm sharing my message and I'm facilitating a really rich conversation and you know the people that are able to apply the stuff that I'm sharing right then and I can just feel our connection in the room and my grounding and my passion in sharing this message. So just in case you don't imagine the thousands out there, that's not the only way to be a Thought Leader by far. But since that is our theme for this podcast, for this episode, the podcast, I thought it was a good vision to bring forth, but here's the question.

Do we have to think bigger in order to be really successful as a speaker, as a Thought Leader, as a person building a business with speaking and Thought Leadership at the center? Is it required that we think bigger? I mean, think about Dr. Angela Lauria and if you're around her at all, and I get to be around a lot of very, very successful business owners and they often do think big, very big, and you know, they just kind of have these ideas and they may implement on some and they don't implement on others. There's not a lot of judgment of those ideas. I do notice that. So yes, I'm around it. I see it. But I still have this question because do you remember that story that Brene Brown tells? I think I talked about it a couple of podcasts back, but I believe she tells it in her Netflix movie, which every single person on the planet has watched.

Right. If you haven't, it's totally fine. You can just go get it and watch it. It is very good. It's very Brene Brown. You get to see her style of speaking, but she tells a story and I believe it's there. I know she's also written about this in at least one of her books and that where she's riding in the car with her husband on the way to that first TEDx talk, the TEDx talk, where she's going to talk about vulnerability and she says to her husband in the car, Hey, you know, I've decided I'm going to do this one kind of differently than I normally do, and he turns to her and says something like, what? You're going to do that with this one? Like right now? She's like, yeah, you know, I've just been thinking about it and I have this different way I want to come at it so it doesn't feel like she's dreaming up 20 million views on YouTube through for her Ted talk or you know, however many views she has now.

Right. She's just a person who has a message. She cares enough about to craft it into a talk that is compelling to try the next version of that talk and hopefully create a meaningful impact in that room. It turns out it has created an incredible shift really in our our world. Many people talk about vulnerability and shame and we didn't talk about those things before unless you were a therapist or maybe a coach, you know, or in some of those arenas, psychologist, psychiatrist. But that's how it turned out. She didn't have to dream it up. Now in full disclosure, I haven't talked to Brene Brown about this. I don't know if she had this big dream and had that same imagination and was strategically putting it into place. But everything I've heard about the evolution of her message and her business has it really that has that organic feel to it.

It has that, wow. And then this thing happened and so I did this and then I tried this. So do we have to think bigger still the question, I'm just sort of holding it out there for all of us to think about. One of my clients is the founder of a much loved award winning company. Actually, I get to work with lots of founders who are, you know, award winning and that's why they're being called onto these stages. So what happens when you're a successful founder, you get called on to stages because people want to know how you did it. So this one particular client we've been working on her talk for, it's gotta be over a year, many iterations. It keeps shifting and changing based on very real things. I mean, she's super busy and so the process doesn't look the way it normally looks with a lot of my clients who are like out there speaking to bring in new clients.

Hers is more of a brand building. That's what a lot of founders are doing, establishing Thought Leadership on behalf of the brand. But it's not required to bring in sales this week or this month. So there's less urgency around it. I assure you. In this case, it's not about thinking big because she never meant to be a speaker. This was not what she had in mind. You know, she's already being invited on some of the biggest, most coveted stages in her industry because she's been so successful in her business, not as a Thought Leader. So she's just being called now. When we first met, she actually saw me speak and heard me talk about, one of the things I say is that there's no more powerful way to change a lot of lives at once. Then authentic, powerful, captivating, public speaking. So I had said that in a variety of ways in this talk.

And so she contacted me the very next morning and said, you know, I never imagined that I'd be writing this email to a speaking coach. But you know,  when you said that it really hit me like I could just serve a lot more people in our industry. I could reach a lot more of our clients this way. So I guess ultimately she ended up kind of like seeing the bigger vision for it, but it's a funny little dance that I want to put out there. You know, is it that we have to stop and think bigger before we can go create something cool? Or might it just happen a variety of different ways? Is thinking bigger required or is it just kind of a natural part of the process when you are in this kind of work? And here's the truth. I've met many, many current and aspiring speakers and business people who've been thinking big for a long time and they just aren't realizing the dream.

So what I know from that is that thinking bigger is not the answer, right? It's not required. And when you think about Brene Brown, and I think about many things that have happened in my own business, I had some really cool things happen and I was not thinking big at all. I was scared to death. Like I was just kind of fumbling around trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Oftentimes something big and exciting happens and it helps me see a greater possibility. So I want us to hold this whole, you must think bigger or this idea of thinking bigger, more lightly. And even more importantly, here's what I surmise from all of my experience, really around people who want to do big things in the world. We don't have to think big, like it's not a direct correlation to, you know, a successful outcome in a particular circumstance, but it sure is dang fun.

And that's the thing. I feel like if there's anything that is a direct correlation, but it's not a direct correlation, but if there's anything that's close, it is just allowing ourselves to hold these dreams, hold them up in front of us and delight in them, grow them, let them be big, blossom them, enjoy seeing them, seeing what's possible. That's why I love the story that Dr. Angela Lauria told because in this interview, this fun interview that she was doing with her colleague at a workshop, she was so relaxed. She had this calm mind, right? She didn't have a lot on it. It wasn't like, I got to make this happen right now. I better put a strategic plan in place that's gonna work. No, it was just like, okay, let's see what happens when I just dream this up. And it really, that dream set her up on a path that got realized and you know some different ways, but it does have something to do with the big action that she took.

She's a big thinker and it's so fun to see what happens when you decide to just take action and see what happens on a big exciting vision. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But if you can hold it lightly, it can be really fun. And when things feel like that you're more likely to try the next thing. Try the next thing. As my friend and colleague and client, Carlo Antheil says, just take massive action. She says, too many people are asking the question, should I do this or should I do that? What should I do next? And you know what's the right next thing to do? And she's like, that's the wrong question. Just go try something cause you have no idea what the right thing is to do. And I think when we hold our big visions with this, just sort of like brightness around them, then we get to enjoy seeing what is meant to come of it.

My client, Jill, is an awesome executive leadership coach. She speaks at some of the most recognized and celebrated brand companies in the world. You know these names. They're everywhere all over your house and, and you know all over the mall and she talks about the game of leadership. I love this so much. I love this concept. I mean, she's an awesome speaker and her ideas are brilliant and she just wrote a book. Actually we'll put a link to it in the show notes where she talks about this. What I especially love about Jill's message is that it has that levity to it. It's a reminder that all these things we're doing in this world, we make them so heavy. We make them so hard. We call them all problems and we forget that this is what we came here for. This is what we came here to do.

You definitely want to check out her book. So I'll have it in the show notes. Jill Ratliff. So my friends, this is all of us. So yes, that happens in leadership. And Jill talks about it in that context because there's a lot of big thinking and then a lot of big action and big dollars that happen at these very large corporations when there's a big idea, but my friends, this is all of us, we all wonder what the right next thing to do is. We have this big vision, we look at it, we get scared and we say, I have no idea how I'm going to get there. Maybe I need to make this smaller. Maybe I need to think bigger. I just want to add some space in the way we're thinking about thinking bigger. The other day my daughters, Simone and I were walking on the beach and Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California.

It was a lovely day. It was supposed to be overcast and cold and I just wonder, do they send out forecasts that don't look great so less people will come to the beaches on these days because it was stunning day. So we're walking along and you know how when the water comes up on the sand and then the tide goes out a little bit, you get this sort of like blank canvas sand that you can easily write in because it's still kind of wet. So there was tons of it on this beach. We're walking along and I start writing just various things in the sand that you know, things that I like to write and Simone is over off to the right of me and she too is writing a message and I walk over there and she has written B the wave and underneath that she's drawn a simple little ocean wave, be the wave.

I mean my heart just melted because waves are my thing right now. I love waves because I had this recent experience with a teacher where she gave me this analogy. I can't remember if I've talked about this before, but she gave me this analogy to explain how we can all be one, this concept of oneness with everyone and then this idea that I see myself as separate from everyone. And I was saying to my teacher, I get it intellectually, this idea of oneness, but you really do look like you're over there and I'm over here. And she said, yes, that makes sense. I could see that. And she said, the way I think about it, it's kind of like the ocean. If you think of all of us energetically as part of this ocean energy, and then for a little while, we get the chance to rise up as a wave in the ocean.

That's our lifetime. That's our experience of this human life. We get to rise up from that energetic source, whatever you want to call it, divine energy, and we get to be a human and live the human experience. If we spend the whole time asking ourselves, am I too tall? Am I too short? Am I going too fast? Am I too frothy as the top of my wave too frothy? We're gonna miss the ride. And so I have all these wave pictures and things, and I have talked about this concept with the girls, but it was so amazing to imagine my daughter who's 12 having this concept in her mind, even if it just swirls around, if she can hold this whole experience of life, of making our difference of getting on that stage and speaking with thousands of people, if that's your vision, if you can hold that lightly with brightness and levity, what fun thing might occur to you to try next to get there and I think when we think we have to think bigger, it gets this heaviness around it that actually makes it hard for us to just try the next thing and see what happens.

Because the next thing probably isn't really, really big. It might be, but it's probably some kind of small step, but it's many of those small steps that help my clients get on the TEDx stages that help them speak at the amazing conferences that help them get five figures, speaking fees, all of that. It's holding it lightly and then just seeing what's the next thing to do on the path to getting there. And if that doesn't work, what's the next thing after that? Not making it mean everything. I don't think any one thing is required for us to be a successful speaker or business leader. There are a lot of ways to get to the impact that you want to make, but dang it is just so much fun to dream up what's possible. And then you know what? If you dream up something different after a while, that's awesome too.

And if you want to call that thinking big, that is cool, that is fine. But I hope that you'll hold it with a lightness and 1180 that allows you to just take some action and see what happens. Because here's the thing, my friends, you wouldn't be here listening to me talk about all of these really much deeper concepts than just, you know how to craft a talk, how to deliver a talk, how to gesture and move. You wouldn't be here if you weren't called from a deep place in you to make a difference. And if that vision, that way that you see yourself on that stage, if that wasn't telling you something, it is telling you something, but we don't know what it means and that's cool. That's okay. It's actually kind of exciting, right? We don't know the details it, but we know like that's where you're headed. You're headed to that place and that kind of impact making that kind of difference. And you were made for this. So there it is. You were made for this. And you know how I know this, right? Because you know, all right, so let's meet back here next week and we'll keep on doing this. Good work. I already can't wait. Take care.

Thanks so much for being here with me on The Thought Leadership School Podcast. If you want specific and actionable guidance on how to become a recognized leader in your industry, you can download a free copy of my book, “Beyond Applause”. Make a meaningful difference through transformational speaking at speaksoitmatters.com/freebook.



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