S. 2 Ep. 24 – Do Niches Really Need To Riches?

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Cece Payne

Marketing Coordinator at SpeakerFlow - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!

Cece Payne

Marketing Coordinator at SpeakerFlow - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!
Technically Speaking S 2 Ep 24 - Do Niches Really Lead To Riches with SpeakerFlow and Frank King

Phew, what an episode we have in store for you today!

Back in season 1, we brought Frank King, 6-time TEDx speaker, to talk about what it takes to land TEDx talks.

While Frank is certainly one of the best TED coaches out there, he also has one core philosophy that we needed to bring to our show.

After 15 years of running his expert business, he learned a valuable lesson about niching.

Since niching, his business has exploded and he’s more focused than ever.

Today, we’re talking about what that journey was like, how to niche, what defines a niche, and ultimately, whether or not it leads to riches.

Which, you probably already know the answer to.

So, without further ado, let’s dive in!

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Show Notes 📓

✅   Interested in landing your first TED talk? Check out our newest course: https://speakerflow.com/courses/tedx-course/

📷   Watch the video version of this episode and subscribe for updates on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYAr3nGy6lbXrhbezMxoHTSCS40liusyU

🚀   And as always, don’t forget about all the mind-blowing free resources at https://speakerflow.com/resources/

Read the Transcription 🤓

Taylorr: Welcome to another episode of Technically Speaking. Now, we have an episode in store for you today. Back in season one, we brought in Frank King, a six time TEDx speaker to talk about what it takes to land TED Talks. Now, if you haven’t listened to that episode, definitely go back and check that out. But while Frank is certainly one of the best TED coaches out there, he also has one core philosophy that we absolutely needed to bring to our show. Now, after 15 years of running his business, he learned a valuable lesson about niching. And since niching, his business has exploded and he is more focused than ever.

We’re your hosts, Taylorr and Austin. And today we’re talking about what that journey was like, how to niche, what defines a niche and ultimately whether or not niches lead to riches, which I have a feeling you probably already know the answer to. So without further ado, let’s dive in and as always stick around until the end for some awesome resources, and we hope you enjoy this one. See in there.

Frank: Everybody said I had to have a green screen, so I got one. I’m not really seeing the big deal. Virtual background, what?

Taylorr: That’s exactly right. 

Austin: That’s okay. For those of you that are watching as we segue into this episode, the background that Frank had is this really cool, like neon TEDx thing. We ran into some technical difficulties, so we don’t get to see it. You can imagine it.

Frank: That’s right.

Austin: You’re welcome. 

Taylorr: It looks beautiful, just know that. It look great. 

Austin: Honestly, just having something that’s like clean behind you is great. We live in a world where half of Zoom meetings exist in like a bedroom or something. And so, there’s like some of these unmade bed back there, it’s like, come on, Taylorr, get out of here – in the studio over there. Frank, man. Welcome back. It’s great to have you on the show again.

Frank: It is.

Taylorr: Round two.

Frank: It is great to be back. The live events are coming back. I went to – I don’t know if you know Kimberly at the Entrepreneur Rocket or Rocket Entrepreneur or whatever it is. I went to speak at her entrepreneur summit Plano, and then I went to Kansas City for the NACA, National Association Campus Activity National, they called it live meeting. I was seventh alternate, which meant I have to kill six people to get on stage. And unfortunately, three of them are represented by my agent so that was help. And then two gigs in Ohio, one in Cincinnati, one in Youngstown, a dental group and a construction group. So, yeah, it’s coming back.

Austin: When do you feel like it started settling back in, is this like the last couple of weeks, months? Is it a year?

Frank: Know what? January I got a call from a big construction company, biggest in the country, Turner Construction. And they have a building in Manhattan called The Spiral and they’ve got a thousand construction workers. I did seven keynotes in two and a half days in the lunch room of this building that’s under construction. And that seemed to kick off the year. That’s the biggest check I’ve ever gotten for a day or two. And that seemed to jumpstart things. And I’ve gotten two inquiries, one from Fort Bliss and one for Fort Irwin. Bliss is in El Paso and Fort Irwin’s in Barstow, California. And normally the military, they’ll spend anything on weaponry, but when I tell them my fee, they’re like, oh, oh, but both times I told them my fee and they didn’t blink. I’m thinking what is changing, what’s happen? So yeah, I think we turned the corner sometime last fall, I think. And yeah, it doesn’t hurt that 38 States are considering dropping the mass mandate. Even Oregon’s dropping it on the 12th.

Austin: Yeah, I heard about that.

Frank: I think that’s going to be a big in the conference business.

Austin: Yeah, people are hungry for it.

Taylorr: That’s right. And what a world we have open to us now. I mean, we know virtually it can be done, so that’s still going to happen occasionally. But now we have all this live stuff back and people have a higher value on the delivery after theat. I mean, wow, what a great time to be in this business.

Frank: And 24 March, I’m speaking to association of energy producers, something in Plano. And I got a contact from another company that said can you do March 24? I said, well, I could do it virtually. That’s great. So I do a keynote from one to two in Plano, and then I get 3:30 I log on for a tech rehearsal and 4 o’clock I do an hour. So two for, I mean, I think that’s a silver lining for speakers.

Taylorr: Yeah.

Austin: It’s true. We talked about this early on, but one of the biggest issues with this type of business and this revenue stream in this business, speaking, standing on stages is that it’s very much dependent on the number of calendar days that you have in a year, because most of the time they’re not happening a block over if you’re speaking back to back of like States across. You know what I mean? So yeah, you don’t just walk from one location to the other. Because of that, there’s a cap in terms of how much you can actually get on stage, because you’re just one human being. But with virtual, like, although we still have limitations on time, we only have 24 hours in a day, obviously, but now we can fit two or three things into a day if we wanted to. And so, our inventory has expanded so to speak, which is a great opportunity if we’re capitalizing on it.

Frank: Yeah. And we’re not subject to the airline schedule, time zone…

Taylorr: Like one event is three days, basically. I mean, if you go live somewhere, you got a day of prep, you got a day to get there, you got a day back just recuperating. Like, I mean, the ability just to be able to jump in and do virtual, even in back to back days, like the exchange of time for value is pretty great in comparison to live.

Frank: I have a friend who did – she emceed two events on the same day. She had two computers, both of them logged onto two separate Zoom accounts. And she was simultaneously emceeing two event from her apartment.

Taylorr: Oh, what a gamble. That is a cool story. 

Austin: That person put it on the line, respect. Sometimes you just got to get it out there?

Frank: Oh, man. I can’t even… I mean, just to be able to handle that mentally with bandwidths.

Austin: Yeah, I couldn’t do it. I’m not smart enough.

Taylorr: Found our next Technically Speaking guest, so…

Austin: Yeah, right? We need an intro. So, we’re obviously very excited to have you back; I just wanted to start before we segue into today’s content, just kind of recap for those of you listening or watching that didn’t listen to or watch the first episode that we did with you, Frank, because we talked about TEDx specifically and that’s obviously still relevant maybe now more than ever with TEDx events happening again and less competition in the marketplace, people have gone away from the space in the last little while. There’s lots of good stuff that we can continue talking about with TED. And we have the TEDx course getting published to SpeakerFlow University. It’s actually live by the time you guys are watching this, you can go…

Taylorr: Check it out in the show notes.

Austin: Check it out, yep, shameless plug. But in that first episode, one of the things that we briefly touched on was your history for your own personal business, outside of the TEDx coaching, and how effective it was for you to niche down and choose some specific industries and types of businesses that you’re best able to serve. And we know that this translates into TED, but it also just translates into a successful business. And it’s one of the things that we hear people struggling with pretty frequently, so we’re excited to go deep with you on that topic. Before we dive into that though, can we have you just explain just from your perspective, since there’s a million ways that we could probably tackle this concept, what a niche actually is and what that word means to you as it relates to your own business?

Frank: Yes. And I’m really embarrassed to tell you this, but in 1995 in when I joined my first chapter of NSA, the Carolina’s Chapter, I’m now a member of the LA Chapter, my seventh chapter; I heard the phrase, the riches are in the niches, that’s 1995. I didn’t take action on that until 2018. I would be in a much bigger house.

Taylorr: That was recent, Frank.

Frank: Yeah, I would be in a much bigger house, all paid off in LA Jolla probably if I had taken that advice in 1995.

Austin: Wow. 13 years before; that’s wild. I didn’t realize that.

Frank: Yeah, and I’m embarrassed to say. And you know what happened was, I was working a ship because I did comedy on cruise ships for a long time, and it was December of 2017. I had a networking speech, and a cardiac health speech and motivational inspirational speech. And I started thinking about the people in my town, in the of commerce who are most successful, and I thought to myself now, what do they have in common? And I thought about a guy with an auto body shop, Todd’s Auto Body, and a guy who owns three radio stations, very successful. And I thought, you know what? They do one thing and they do it extremely well. So, I decided January 1st, 2018, I wouldn’t turn down work for a cardiac health speech or stand-up comedy, but I was going to market nothing but my suicide prevention speech. And the last recession, ’08, ’09, and ’10, when speaking dropped off 80% practically overnight, me ended up filing bankruptcy, and that’s when I learned what the barrel of my gun tasted like. Spoiler alert, I didn’t pull the trigger. A friend of mine came up with me at a keynote one time, he thought he’d be funny; hey man, how come he didn’t pull the trigger? I go, hey man, could you try to sound slightly less disappointed?

And when I joined in and say, they were all about making a living in a difference, but I could never figure out what I had to teach anybody until I put a gun in my mouth. And I realized, wait a minute; with my mental health history, there are more nuts in my family than in a squirrel turd. And I came so close to dying by suicide and I’ve got two mental illnesses, and I thought I can speak on suicide prevention. So I got training, so I had a curriculum and a PowerPoint slide deck. Because what the meeting planner said to me after the last recession was, Frank, we love you. We just can’t pay you that much money anymore just to be funny. You’ve got to teach our audience something. Something I learned from you guys by the way, pains and gains.

And I tell my students this all the time, if you are not addressing a pain point, if you are not solving a problem for somebody, I don’t care how good your keynote is, you’re not going to get booked. And so, I decided I would speak on suicide prevention. And of course, having been a comic for 25 years, everybody thought of me simply as a funny guy. So, how do you rebrand? My wife famously said to me, do a TEDx. And I said, what’s a TEDx? Just so happened that week, I got an invitation from TEDx in Vancouver, BC, would you apply? Would you want to apply? Sure. So I sent it and I got spoiled, I got my first one, on the first app. And I came out on stage for the first time in my life at age 52 as depressed and suicidal. Nobody knew that. My wife, my friends, my family, it was a very serious speech with humor, like the joke about it, didn’t pull the trigger. 

I said to them, I went on TED to see how other people handled the topic of suicide. I figured there’d be dozens of talks on suicide and turns out there were three and then it hit me. Well, duh, if you’re really good at suicide, you’re not going to be recording a TED Talk. But it allowed me to show the meeting planners and the speaker bureaus that I could speak about something serious with humour, like a court gesture. I speak truth of the power of mental illness on behalf of those often power less in its grip with humour, and that was 2014. I still did the other speeches, I was still marketing other speeches, as you guys know now until 2018, I’m a learner, a slow learner, but a learner. And I discovered, I don’t know, it was like gears falling into place, like going from third to fourth or fifth. As soon as I chose that one lane as Jane Atkinson would say, all of a sudden things began to fall into place. I’ve met people who, and organizations who, and it just seemed like once I got in line with what I was supposed to be doing, my passion, my purpose, that all these other things began to fall into place.

And I tell my students look, one of the reasons to do a TEDx is for branding. And one of the things you can do with a TEDx is you have to niche it down because you’ve got to convince the committee, the curation team. You can talk about whatever your passion is in 12 to 18 minutes. You have to niche it to a point where they believe you can do that. And in that process, you pick what you’re most passionate about, and you boil it down to a summary of 12 to 18 minutes, which you can, of course later blow up to a 45 minute keynote. So, that’s one of the benefits of doing a TEDx. It forces that niching and niching and niching until you can do it in 12 to 18 minutes. And I said, look, here’s the deal. I’d like to see this be your only speech that you market. Because long term, the long game for me for you is that you’re no longer a commodity in the speaking business. When they come looking for somebody on that topic, they’re not looking for just to anybody; they’re looking for you because you are the expert. You are the thought leader. That’s what we’re trying to create. And that’s one of the benefits of doing TEDx is it forces you to do that homework.

And then I took a tip from you guys and I teach this. I said, now that you figure that out, now we got the keynote and we got the TEDx and you’ve picked a lane, you have to figure out who your ideal clients are. And I believe an ideal client is a meeting once a year, they use outside speakers, they’ve got a budget that’ll pay your fee. And here’s where you guys come in; they have a problem you’re going to help solve. They got pain point you’re addressing. And that to me, screams association, to have to get together once a year to put in new board of directors or whatever. So, I try to get my clients, again, niching. I talked to a woman this morning, she speaks on cancer – she survived in trauma, PTSD. I said, well, who’s your ideal client? Well, I could talk to anybody who had cancer. I said, well, that would be great if they all got together once a year.

Taylorr: Yeah, they don’t.

Frank: I said to her, I need you to think. [Cross-talk 14:16] Who gets together once a year that has money they would want to hear what you have to say? And she goes, oncologist. I go, there you go. That’s where we start. We start with a National Association of Oncologist or whatever it is, and I’m sure there’s a chapter in every State and then we broaden it from there. But again, I’ve got a woman who works at an electrical association in Pennsylvania and she does a speech on women in construction. I said, you should never make another keynote outside the construction industry because you’ve got the Association General Contractors in every State. You’ve got all those trades, electrician, HVAC, plumbers, and there’s actually two national organizations called Women in Construction. Those are your ideal clients. Those are the people who will pay you to hear what you have to say. And so, that’s the benefit I believe of doing the TEDx is helps the speaker either a new speaker focus on what they really want to talk about and pick a lane or a seasoned speaker. What scares me guys is when I go to a speaker’s website and says, I speak on these things and there’s a dozen. Networking, customer service whatever.

If I’m a meeting planner and I come to a page for you, I want to see that you speak on exactly what I’m looking for. I don’t want to hear about all the other wonderful things you do. So, I’ve got a landing page for mentalhealthcomedian.com/constructionindustry, mentalhealthcomedian.com/dental. Matter of fact, if you can go to a browser from where you are and you type in suicide prevention speakers dental, you’ll find that I have six organic listings, at least on page one and a couple of videos. That’s the beauty of niching. I had a woman, she booked me for the mentalhealthcomedian.com/agriculture. I always ask how’d you find me? She goes, Frank, I typed in suicide prevention speakers agriculture, and you came up. And then I went to your website and I read the verbiage on the first page, and it says this, hi, I bet they selected you to find just the right mental health speaker on agriculture. She’s staring to the screen going, how does he know I’m thinking that?

Austin: I love that.

Frank: I said to my speaker, that’s what you want. You want to join the conversation in the meeting planner’s head. You want to be the solution to their problem. You want to be the solution to their pain, that when they land there… the construction thing I did in January, the guy said, Frank, I typed in suicide prevention speakers construction, you came up, I typed in suicide prevention speakers stigma, you came up. He goes, for a guy who’s 65, you have an amazing web presence. One of the nicest things anybody ever said to me. I have that presence because I do…

Austin: That helps because of the power of niching.

Frank: I have the presence because I do one thing and I do it extremely, he said humbly, I do it extremely well.

Austin: I want to jump in real quick before we move on though, because there’s a really important thing. I want people to hear this because we talk about niching all the time with our clients, in sales conversations, because really, it’s so important. But, people get really hung up with really specific thing as it relates to niching I find, and that’s an industry. We choose an industry. But as you just explain this for yourself and this is, again, I’m not the expert on everything, but I would say this is the right way to look at it. It actually starts with deciding what it is that you’re going to speak on because the niche in an industry is only relevant if that thing that you have is relevant to that industry. And so, I think people get really intimidated because of the FOMO piece of feeling like they’re going to miss opportunity that could be in some space that we don’t even know of yet. But being able to choose the thing that it is that you are the specialist in and then extrapolate who is best able to benefit fit from that expertise, that’s what makes a niche so successful.

And the person that opened my eyes to this and Taylorr probably you too, is Gino Wickman from the EOS world, the Entrepreneurial Operating System. Wrote a book called Traction, probably we’ve talked about it many times on this show, but he explains a niche as the thing that you do best, ideally better than anybody else. That’s a niche. And then you said ideal client profile, and that’s even a whole nether thing. In fact, in the EOS world, they call it the list. But there’s this subset to that where we go one step deeper and it starts with choosing the thing, so for you, it’s suicide prevention. And then from that, you’re able to then extrapolate the areas that need to benefit most from that. When you pair those two things together, you end up knowing exactly who to talk to, exactly what you need to say to them, to be able to benefit them. And at that point, it’s just proving you’re worth enough that they buy from you. There’s so many less barriers that you have to get past if you start with that type of clarity. So for the listeners, I want you to take away that because Frank’s success I think, and correct me if I’m wrong about this Frank, but I think a lot of it has to do with those two principles working for you.

Frank: Yes. And I had this conversation almost every day with my clients. Look, I chose six of the top 10 at risk occupations for suicide. Just to give an example, 1000 people, roughly construction workers die by accident every year in the construction industry, a thousand. Roughly 5,000 die by suicide. You’re five times is likely to jump off a building than you are to fall off. That’s a serious problem. So, when they contact me, because I chose that industry carefully, I don’t have to sell them on the idea, the sales half done. I don’t on the idea that suicide prevention is a good thing. All they’re doing is just trying to decide which suicide prevention speaker they’re going to use. And when you add in the element of humour, the guy this morning at Fort Bliss said, yeah, we had a guy last year, but you know, it just didn’t, I don’t… And when I saw your profile and I saw you do with humour, it’s such a dark subject and I’d watch one of your TED Talks and I saw how you work the humour in.

But again, I didn’t have to convince him the military has a problem with suicide. He’s just looking for the right mental health suicide prevention speaker. I think that’s the benefit of picking an ideal client or ideal client list. Michael Port, the book Yourself Solid, yeah, I learned all that from him. The velvet rope – what is it called? Theory or something, it’s like running the high end bar. You’re only going to let certain people pass that velvet rope. And eventually, those are the only people you should be doing with. You should be referring everybody else out who’s not an ideal client. Don’t turn, them away. Send them to somebody who does exactly what they’re looking for so you’re always doing what you’re best at. And so, yeah, 50% of the sales process is done because they have a problem that I can solve or help solve, so I don’t have to convince them I’ve got the next best thing since slice bread. That’s done. They just have to decide whether they’re going to hire me or not.

Taylorr: That’s right. I’m sure you see this all the time, in fact, I actually want to go back to your past just a little bit, because you said you didn’t get to the niche until what, 2018. So the question ultimately that I’m getting to here is where is the hesitancy for people to niche? So for you, you had about – what, was it 13 years or so 15 years or so kind of just speaking about maybe not as focused.

Frank: Yeah, a lot of things.

Taylorr: Did you notice any hesitancy for you to niche? Did you know, I need to niche, but there was some friction there where you just kind of ignoring it? What was the reason for not niching in that time because I feel like many people might relate to that feeling?

Frank: Well, it’s the one thing I remember from my Econ classes in Chapel Hill. I have two classes away from a degree in economics, the only thing I remember is this, it’s called opportunity cost. When you pick a lane, you are losing the opportunities in all those other lanes. And that’s where I find the pushback. I try to tell my clients, look, short term loss, long term gain. Don’t ever turn down a speech in those lanes, but don’t go looking for it either. And there may be a lag when you select a lane because you’re not marketing in those other areas, but long term, long game, again, we’re trying to make you not a commodity in whatever it is. So, what I’m saying is it’s opportunity cost. When you pick a lane, you are disqualifying yourself in all the other lanes from a marketing perspective. And again, there’ll be a lag time. It’s kind of like raising your fee. There may be a lag time till the market catches up with your fee. But once it does, you know, then you get fewer gigs, more money, so I think opportunity cost is the big stumbling block for a lot of speakers.

Austin: It’s funny because it’s kind of a logical fallacy if you zoom out a little bit because you can’t do it all anyways. You have to choose at some point because if you didn’t, you would forever just be bumbling through all of the various potential options. I bring this up all the time, People are going to get so sick of me hearing about this, Taylorr, I know you already knew exactly where I’m going with this, but this book I read Four Thousand Weeks, changed my life. And one of the main things that he talks about there is that what makes life meaningful is limitation in some sense, because if you sit in the limitlessness, then nothing ever happens. You could forever be spinning through all the potential options. And even if you’re trying to go broader than we’re suggesting that you should, you still can only go so broad because you’re only one human being with a limited amount of time. You’re going to die eventually, you can’t get to everything, so you have to choose at some point. It’s almost like, if you look at it from that lens, it’s arbitrary as to how granular or how broad that you go because a choice is still being made. But I think what we’re saying here is that by choosing and getting as specific as possible, that’s probably the optimal way to do it. So for those of you that are looking at opportunity calls, just don’t forget that you’re choosing no matter what, even if you’re choosing a less specific path than we’re suggesting you probably should.

Frank: And put yourself in the mind of the meeting planner. Again, if I’m the meeting planner, when the lady looking for the agricultural suicide prevention speaker landed on my page, that’s all she saw. She may not even be aware that I speak to dentist and physicians and attorneys, but she doesn’t care about that. All she cares is I am what she’s looking for, and I solve a problem just by being that person before I even arrive. I’ve just solved her meeting planner problem, now I can help solve the association’s problem. I just can’t believe, I knew it from ’95, I can’t believe I waited  But again, I was like everybody else, I think if I niche it too hard, I’m going to, you know… There’s another element here. I’ve got two black motivational speakers. And I said to them, “Look, I would, if I were you, A, I don’t think there are many black or African American motivational speakers in the five to $10,000 range. There’s less brown and there’s some other guy about the same fee and then there’s this vacuum.

And I said, that’s what you guys should be doing. I said, you should go into sales navigator and type in black association of blank – funeral directors, bankers, veterinarians, dentists, physicians. And I said, you can do straight up mixed audiences for your motivation, but I would start where you are. And I think it’s an underserved market. I’m always with my clients looking for a vacuum. I do a lot of speaking with dentists and I went to dental speakers bureau. I could not find one speaker in their list of topics on sales. And if you’re pitching an $1,100 crown to somebody, that’s a sales discussion, but because it’s a practice, it’s not a business. We’re not salesy. You are. Like you said, Austin, you are making a sales pitch; you’re just not doing it very well. You’re selling $1,100 crown.

So I said to a friend of mine is in sales training; you need to get in the dental market. There’s a vacuum there because they don’t realize dental market, veterinarian market, any practice where they don’t think of it as a business, it’s a practice, they don’t think of it as sales. There’s a vacuum. So with African American motivational speakers, I said, look, A, there’s nobody I don’t think in your price range much, B, I would start with every black association in the country, and you may never have to leave that market.”

Taylorr: So the thing that I like about this conversation so far is that, Frank there’s action in your research. I think what people might just glance over in this story that we just heard is that some people might just be waiting for it to happen, kike magically they might find their niche. And I think sometimes that can happen. We can stumble into it. But I think with the volume of clients that you work with, one of the benefits that people have of working with you is that you have your ear to the ground and you’re poking through different like industries, like dental, for example, figuring out where there are gaps, so much of niching can come from your own research. So, don’t think this is an inactive process is the thing that I want to communicate to everyone listening. To figure out a niche, look for the vacuum, and figure out where there’s a gap to the problem that you can solve, and it doesn’t need to be an inactive process. It can be one where you just do a little bit of research and find a huge opportunity, poked down that path a little bit, and then the world starts to open up a little bit more.

Frank: And when I did my first TEDx to help me rebrand; the chamber commerce called me several weeks before I did it. And they said, our speaker fell out for tomorrow, would you come in and do 20 minutes? And I said, sure, if I could do my TEDx. And I’m sure they thought I was going to be stand up. So I go in my notes, my PowerPoint, and I’ve got my face buried in my notes. I’m doing the PowerPoint over my shoulder. I’m not really attention to the audience. And I get to the end of it and I look up, and they’re all standing applauding and half of them are crying. And I thought, oh boy, I have touched a nerve. And half a dozen came up to me in the weeks of followed individually and each one had a story of mental health, suicide, depression, whatever story.

What I discovered was, even though one person dies every nine minutes by suicide in the US, hardly anybody talks about it unless you bring it up. And so, that became my tagline – start the conversation to break the silence, to break the stigma, to save lives. Simply by getting on stage as a man, especially because we men don’t talk about these kind of things much, and exposing all my warts, make them laugh, make them cry because I get choked up in my stories; that gives other people permission to give voice to their feelings and experiences. And I would tell 95% of my clients the phrase I hear over and over is we just brought you in here to start the conversation. So, I realized that was where the vacuum was. Even though one person dies every nine minutes, that’s 146 people a day. That’s like a 737 going on the ground like a lawn dart, and nobody’s talking about it. That was the vacuum that I discovered. I’m not a clinician, there aren’t a lot of comics talking about it. So I added the humour, picked the brand, the mental health comedian, which is sort of counterintuitive. And that made all the… somebody asked me, how’d you pick suicide as a topic? Well, I’ll tell you the truth, the topic picked me.

Taylorr: That’s right.

Frank: So I think you need to look in inside as well. There’s just something organic about you. I’ve got a client with narcolepsy, and she’s got a book on narcolepsy and the foundation on narcolepsy and she’s going to do a TED Talk on narcolepsy, on sleep. So, she just looked inside and then as well as looking outside for the vacuum.

Austin: There’s so many elements in business where just being self-aware is like really an important part.

Frank: Oh yeah.

Austin: If you’re just paying attention, just pay attention to how people react to you and what language you use that really hits people. It’s so easy to glaze over it because we use the phrase you can’t read the label while you’re in the bottle all the time here, so I acknowledge that that’s a thing, but if you’re watching, it’s amazing what you can find.

Frank: Well, and I learn as I go. I say part of my presentation is, if somebody’s suicidal, but they don’t have a plan that’s firm to time, place and method; you should ask them, well, how are you going to kill yourself? And then if they say no, then say, tell me why not. Make them give voice to whatever’s keeping them here because there is something keeping them here. And I tell a story. I just off the cuff one time told a story, because somebody said, why are you here? And I said, well, my mom and dad tried to have children, they wanted and tried very hard. My mom got pregnant, carried it to term and it died shortly after birth. A year later, she got pregnant again. She carried it to term and it died shortly after birth. And I said, she tried a third time and I was born, the fourth time my sister was born. Where do you find the courage to try a third and fourth time? 

I said, so one of the reasons, the big reason I’m still here is my mother was so brave and work so hard to bring me here that I have to be as brave and work as hard to stay. Thank you very much, that’s my time. And I mean, I had no idea what the impact would be, especially on the women in the audience. People came and threw their arms around my neck. So, I’m constantly… I thought what intuition toss in something and it hits like a ton of bricks, and of course, it stays in after that. So, it is not a static process; things come, things go, things that work out, keep; things that don’t, I let go by the wayside, so I’m still niching and fine tuning my presentation.

Austin: It’s an iterative thing.

Taylorr: Such an important lesson.

Austin: That’s a powerful story too, thanks for sharing that. I love the vulnerability.

Frank: I love doing it.

Taylorr: No, appreciate it.

Austin: There’s not enough realness in this world, so I like it.

Frank: The guy that book me in New York is in the back of the room and two things. He noticed, he thought he’s crying and I don’t think he’s putting it on. And he looked up and sitting in front of him in this building that under construction was this giant burley iron worker. And he said, the guy turned his face sideways and he saw a tear run down the guy’s face. So he wasn’t openly weeping, but here’s this really tough guy that I touched that hard that I give out my cell phone number every time I speak. I go, look, if you’re suicidal, call a hotline. If you’re just having a bad day, call a crazy person, here’s my cell. And people call or text. And the next morning before I did my next two or three keynotes for this construction outfit, I got a text. When I turned on my phone, there was a text, a New York number, I was in New York, I didn’t recognize the number. And it simply said, can I get the phone number again for help? Didn’t want to ask it during general Q and A, probably didn’t want to come up and have his friends see him talking to me, but reached out by text. And again, and I got choked up on stage and I said, well, apparently big boys do cry. And I tell my speakers, if you can move them from pole to pole, make them laugh, make them cry, bring them back. It’s the old song about how they won’t remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel. And I think’s mediocre speech that moves them emotionally is far better than sparkling a good copy that doesn’t move them.

Taylorr: Yeah. And how do you move somebody without having a niche? Without having focus. [Cross-talk 34:37].

Frank: And passion, TEDx is all about passion.

Taylorr: That’s right.

Frank: There’s a great book called Talk Like TED, by Carmine Gallo. He watched 500 TED Talks, bless his heart, Talk Like TED, and he boil it down to nine things he believes belong in every great TEDx Talk or TED Talk. And the number one thing is passion. It’s hard to be inspiring if you’re not inspired. And then humour and surprise for the audience which I try to build into everybody’s TEDx that I coach plus my own. And in my first TEDx, I had my grandmother’s suicide note and it goes up on the screen in PowerPoint. And the audience is thinking, I’m going to read it or they’re going to have to read it. And I got a friend of mine, a voiceover actress in LA that I took classes from who suffers from depression. And I asked her if she would read my grandmother… she voiced my grandmother’s suicide note. She was thrilled. So I put the note on the screen. I give them time to think they’re going to have to read it or I’m going to read it. And then out of the darkness in the theatre comes a woman’s voice, my dear children, I’m so sorry to leave you. You can hear the goosebumps pop up. Here’s a woman speaking from the grave. So, that’s one of the things that’s in talk like TED is, a surprise and aha moment for the audience. Again, move them emotionally.

Taylorr: That’s right. Definitely. And you can’t move anybody emotionally without having that niche, that passion, that point of focus. So Frank, thank you so much for coming on the show today and talking about this subject, talking about niching the importance of it. Everyone listening, as you know, we had Frank on relating to TEDx Talks, if you haven’t yet, go listen into that episode. And we, in that episode talk about a course we were working on together that is finally out. And those links to the course are in the show notes. So, definitely go check that out. If you’re looking to get booked on TEDx stages and want a DIY and very simple approach to making it happen, definitely go look at that course. And hey, if you like this episode, don’t forget to rate it like it, subscribe to it. And if you want more awesome resources like this, go to speakerflow.com/resources.

Thank you so much for chiming in. I just wanted to take a second to thank our sponsor Auxbus. Auxbus is the all-in-one suite of tools you need to run your podcast. And it’s actually what we run here at Speaker Flow for Technically Speaking. It makes planning podcasts simple. It makes recording podcasts simple. It even makes publishing podcasts to the masses simple. And quite honestly, Technically Speaking wouldn’t be up as soon as it is without Auxbus. Thank you so much Auxbus. And if you are interested in checking Auxbus, whether you’re starting a podcast or you have one currently, get our special offer auxbus.com/speakerflow, or click the link below in our show notes.

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