In today’s episode, we’re talking about finding your influential voice. And to cover that topic, we’ve brought in Tricia Brouk.
Tricia is an international award-winning director. She has worked in theater, film, and television for three decades. Her work includes the writing of two musicals, both produced in New York City, a one-woman show, and four documentaries, two eligible for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominations.
Tricia founded The Big Talk Academy where she certifies speakers in the art of public speaking. She was the executive producer of Speakers Who Dare and TEDxLincolnSquare and now The Big Talk Live. She has shepherded more than fifty speakers onto more than 20 TEDx stages in under three years.
With her latest book, The Influential Voice, coming out, we knew we needed to bring her expertise to the table.
We hope you enjoy this one!
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Show Notes 📓
✅ Get the first chapter of Tricia’s book for FREE. www.theinfluentialvoicebook.com/chapter
✅ Check out the Big Talk Academy: https://www.thebigtalkacademy.com/
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Read the Transcription 🤓
Taylorr: Welcome to another episode of Technically Speaking. We’re your hosts, Taylorr and Austin and today, we have the absolute pleasure of talking with Tricia Brouk. Now, Tricia is an award-winning director, she has worked in theater, film and television for nearly three decades and her work includes the writing of two musicals, both produced in New York City, a one woman show, and four documentaries. Two eligible for Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominations. Now, Tricia founded The Big Talk Academy where she certifies speakers in the art of public speaking. She was the executive producer of Speakers Who Dare and TEDx Lincoln Square and now The Big Talk Live. She has shepherded more than 50 speakers onto more than 20 TEDx stages in under three years, and with her latest book, The Influential Voice coming out, we knew we needed to bring her expertise to the table. So, today we are talking about your influential voice and how to find it. As always stay tuned until the end for some awesome resources from the show and from Tricia and we really hope you enjoy this one. And we are live. Tricia, I am so glad you’re here, welcome to the show.
Tricia: Oh, my goodness Taylorr, Austin, I’m super excited to be here with you today. Thank you so much for having me.
Taylorr: Yeah [cross-talk 01:35].
Austin: Pleasure is really ours.
Taylorr: We’ve loved all the work that you’re doing and I’m really excited to unpack a lot of that today especially. So, the way as our listeners know we always love to kick off the show just with your background. How did you end up in the crazy world of thought leadership, helping speakers on top of it? Just tell us the whole thing. What was the journey like?
Tricia: First let me just say I love that you call thought leadership a crazy world. I love that so much. You are just so spot on with how crazy everything is in the world so let me just start by saying thank you for that.
Taylorr: Yeah, you got it.
Tricia: People in this space of thought leadership can be so serious and so very constipated, if you will.
Taylorr: I love that adjective was just dropped off the shelf.
Austin: Yes, it’s so true.
Tricia: So, thank you for jumping in with such a light-hearted, amazing way of talking about the power and the importance of what it is we do. And I think when you step away and yes, it is serious business, but when you also step away and realize that you have an opportunity to be playful and to be curious, and to be humble within all of this work, then you get so much more work done. Let me start with the fact that I grew up in the Midwest. I am from a small town, Arnold, Missouri, which is pointing miles south of St. Louis. I grew up on a farm, I learned how to shoot guns, we had squirrels for lunch and cow brains for dinner and I was a Bluebird, which is the precursor to being a Brownie and that’s what I had going for me at the time.
And I went to go see my sister perform at a local studio as a pink poodle. She had joined dance school because she was very shy. She was four at the time, I was seven and I was sitting in the audience thinking this is a thing? Being on stage is a thing? And I didn’t want to be a pink poodle, I didn’t necessarily want to be a tap dancer, but I knew that being on stage meant that I could reach higher levels. I could be more than a farm girl. I could be more than a Bluebird and then a Brownie and then a Girl Scouts. What is possible if you can get on stage and reach more people? And in that moment, I became obsessed with becoming a dancer. I said to my parents, I want to be a dancer, I want to go to dance school and they made me choose. Dance school or Bluebirds. And clearly it was an obvious choice for me. No more Bluebirds, no more Girl Scouts, I don’t want to go camping.
I want to be a dancer and wear pink tights and pointe shoes. I want to dance with Baryshnikov, I want to move to New York city. And in that moment, I just made the decision that I’m going to become a dancer. And I spent the rest of my life focusing on that outcome. And I literally studied dance every single day, went to grade school, high school, went to college, because my parents said you have to go to college. I would have moved to New York City straight out of high school at 17 and gone to any and all auditions.
They gave me the smart guidance to go to college so I got an education and then moved to New York when I was 20 years old, pursued my career, danced all over the world and all over the world, meaning huge opera houses in Vienna and Paris and Palermo and Portugal and New York City. I was absolutely living my dream and loved it and fulfilled that dream. I also became an entrepreneur right away because I did not want to be a starving artist, I had zero interest in being a starving artist. I wanted to take myself to dinner and have nice shoes and have the occasional Martini.
Tricia: So, I was very interested in being able to have money as an artist. So, I started a fitness company early on so when I was touring the world, my trainers were training my clients so I was making money in both areas of my life, the right brain and the left brain. And about three years ago, after I decided to move on from being onstage as a dancer, I moved into producing and writing and directing and choreography so that I could continue to have a bigger impact. So, I’ve been doing that for almost 30 years. And three years ago, a friend of mine reached out and said, I want you to direct something that I just landed and I thought, okay, what is this new show you’re working on? And she said, it’s a Ted Talk. And I thought, oh, they’re very interesting, we’ll do this just like a one-woman show. I’ll analyze your script; we’ll work on choreography and blocking. And it was super fun and that’s exactly what we did and I literally talked her into or directed her into leaving her shoes on the red circle as she exited. So, this was the first time that I was able to get my theatrical hands on somebody who did a Ted Talk and I loved it.
Tricia: After that moment, I was like, okay, back to my thing, making films, documentaries, theater, movies, all that stuff and she planted the seed, you should do this. And I thought, do what? People pay coaches to work with them on speaking? That’s a thing? I had no idea. I had zero online presence. I was not on Facebook, I did not know what Instagram was, I was sort of on Twitter and I had to start because my fitness company, it had been going for so long that I didn’t really need to do any advertising online. So, I had zero online credibility. I didn’t know what a speaker coach meant. I knew what a director meant and I could certainly do that. And what happened was because I said yes to this, the universe threw all these speakers at me, and I had no place to put them. So, all of a sudden, I’m working with all these thought leaders, if you will, and I realized what does a theater producer do? They put on shows, what’s the best show for speakers? TEDx.
So, I applied to get my license, I became the executive producer of TEDx Lincoln Square in New York City and I began this journey of amplifying and elevating voices in order to make the world a better place. And I really had no idea that is what would end up happening. That would be the by-product of using my skillset as a performer for 30 years being on thousands of stages and as a director, working with actors, and all of a sudden, I was able to marry these multiple areas of expertise in order to really serve humanity and that is what has brought me here today with you.
Taylorr: Wow. Don’t you just love how all of it comes together like that? What a journey.
Austin: Seriously. It’s super impressive. Something that I love about your experience too, is like you had these random, I guess, opportunities arise, but they came from you chasing your passion and doing what you loved doing. And I think like that cliche, the best things in life happen organically is kind of true and your sense in many ways. Would you agree with that?
Tricia: I would totally agree with that and I would like to add that it’s also about saying yes. I always…
Tricia: Say yes. And that doesn’t mean that I don’t say no to people. It means, I always say yes to an opportunity and it could potentially mean that I say yes to myself. And that example means if somebody asks me to go to a networking event at nine o’clock at night, I say no to them because I’m saying yes to myself, I need to get a good night’s sleep. But I always say yes to things that I may not know if I can actually do. And this is an example, John Turturro reached out to me and he said, I’m doing this movie with Kate Winslet, James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Eddie Izzard, Christopher Walken, Steve Buscemi and I was like, what’s happening right now? Would you choreograph this? I had never choreographed a step in my life. There was no way I was going to say no to that question period.
Tricia: I said yes and immediately immersed myself in the music, in the script, trusted that the universe would provide me because I had danced so long, I knew how to move, I knew how to make up steps, I just never was asked to officially do it. So, I say yes to things that I’m terrified of every single day.
Taylorr: I am so glad you said that.
Austin: Is there ever been a time where you’ve said yes to something that terrified you and then didn’t work out?
Tricia: Let me think about that question.
Taylorr: The fact that an answer doesn’t come to mind should tell everybody that saying yes to things that terrifies you is totally worth it, just as a sidebar.
Tricia: And I think not working out means you get a huge opportunity for growth.
Tricia: So, I think ultimately, it’s always the right choice.
Austin: That’s a good answer. I like that answer.
Tricia: Thank you.
Austin: So, I know we’re here to talk about The Influential Voice today. What does that mean?
Tricia: The Influential Voice: Saying What You Mean for Lasting Legacy is my first book baby. My first baby that is in the form of a book and I’ve had many babies, many shows, many musicals. And this really was something that came specifically during what was happening with the social unrest in this country and I’ll start by saying I had been shopping around a book on public speaking for almost a year. Many people asked me to write a book on public speaking and I thought, okay, sure I should probably do that. And if you hear my language, sure, I should probably…
Tricia: Do that means I didn’t really want to do that.
Tricia: I wasn’t interested. And I was sort of, I should do that. That’s the next thing for me to do, but I didn’t have passion around it, I wasn’t excited by it and that is exactly why I was not getting a book deal because I was meh about it. And then during COVID, I was supposed to go to Mexico with my husband in June and we did not travel, we made a decision as a family to not travel at all and I’m in New York City so it was really intense for a very long time in this city. And we stayed here and we were mindful in our meditation practices increased in all the things that we did in order to stay productive and to be successful, all of that was in place. And then what ended up happening was I wanted just to write the book while I was here instead of going to Mexico and then Ahmaud Arbery’s murder became public, Brianna Taylor was murdered and George Floyd was murdered. And I sat down and wrote chapter one of my book, The Influential Voice about what it means in this country to be dealing with systemic racism, two impeachment hearings, and absolutely disrespectful and undignified language coming from the top. And I sent chapter one to a publisher and got a book deal in two days.
Tricia: That is how The Influential Voice happened. It was me speaking my truth, being super vulnerable, not worrying about what people would think or say and it is from my point of view, it’s not a book about politics, but it is a book about dignified language and how to learn to be an effective communicator and give space for everyone while simultaneously understanding the power of language for good for evil, for love and for hate. And I shared my personal stories, I shared historical stories of influential voices and it is one of my most proud productions. My marriage is my proudest [inaudible 13:17] I’ve been married for 12 years, happily. That’s my proudest show that I’ve ever put on, but my book, it’s really special to me.
Taylorr: Wow. So did the idea for Influential Voice, because it sounds like if I understood correctly that you had this kind of brewing in the background, but you were kind of meh about it. When you were quote unquote meh about it, was it The Influential Voice that you were writing? Was it that same title and everything? Where did this original idea stem from and then how do you think those events amplified that passion for you to actually get it done?
Tricia: There were a few different titles that I had been shopping around and when I realized the power of speech, and from a dancer, we’re on stage, we don’t say anything, we’re just moving our bodies and that kind of communication can have the same exact impact as someone who is speaking. So, when I realized I have been an influential voice my entire life and my first dance teacher who I talk about in the book, Sharon Maguire was a massively influential voice on me. She helped form who I am, she gave me the confidence to believe I can do anything. Michael Sims, my first ballet teacher who gave me the solo principal role in his ballet, hold me by that action that I was a principal. I was a principal dancer or thought leader, if you will. So, I think what I realized was I had an opportunity to write a book that could give anyone the blueprint to becoming an influential voice. Whether you’re a parent and to your kids, whether you’re a teacher and you’re speaking to your students, whether you’re a CEO and you’re leading a team or whether you are a thought leader and you are taking a huge stage, we all have an opportunity to step into the role of being an influential voice. And when everything was happening in this country and I realized, okay, it’s my responsibility now to share my truth, my vulnerability and how I have become this person with everybody and teach them how they can too.
Austin: Yeah. I love that. I think that there’s a misunderstanding that even quote unquote, normal people, somebody that may not have a massive platform still has the ability to influence those around them too and the way that they communicate is massively impactful in terms of the people that they do come into contact with. And so, I like that what you’re saying seems to empower a normal person to be able to own their voice.
Tricia: Absolutely, and I shared that during the height of the lockdown in New York City, the grocery store next to me stayed open 24 hours so that people could come and go and there wasn’t a lot of people in there and it was safe and I would go to the grocery store fully masked at 5:30 in the morning and Pamela in full hair and makeup lashes, full mask, hair done, she would check me out and all my groceries and we would have a conversation every other day and she influenced me like she will never know. Making me feel safe, making me feel normal, talking about what I was going to make for dinner that night, based on what was in my grocery cart. To this day, she influenced me more than she could ever know because she made me feel safe and normal. So yes, we are all influential voices.
Austin: Yeah, I love that.
Taylorr: Yeah, I think sometimes we see a new book pop into the public speaking space and it’s really just targeted to public speakers, thought leaders, people who have platforms, it’s nice that you’re giving voice to everyone. We all have a voice, we all have a message, our experiences are perfectly justified in the way we think and believe and behave now and the things we want to see change. Empowering everyone to have a voice I think is really magical and I’m really glad that you brought those two worlds together. The thing that really stood out to me though about the book is the subtitle about having a lasting legacy. So how does legacy actually play into all of this and why was that such a variable for you and honestly, why does legacy out of all things make it to the subtitle of this book?
Tricia: Really great question and it’s a really personal answer. I have never wanted to have children. It was not something that I ever desired, felt like, thought about ever. It’s just not who I am. And I am amazing with all of my friends’ kids, I will make out with any baby trust me, but the reality is I just didn’t want to have kids. And I kept thinking, okay, what’s my legacy? What am I leaving behind? Most people leave a family behind; they leave kids behind the leave generations of themselves behind. How can I leave a lasting legacy and how can I teach people to also be conscious of the lasting legacy that they are leaving behind?
So that is why I chose that specific language. My legacy are all of the speakers that I have come in contact with, who I have helped transform into the human being they’re meant to be. And I say human being they’re meant to be specifically, instead of speaker they’re meant to be because when I work with people, I help them get vulnerable and naked so they can transform into the person, the human being that they’re meant to be so that they can step into the role of speaking as an influential voice. So that’s why I chose that language Taylorr.
Austin: That’s so good too and the thing that I think has been ringing in the back of my head since I originally started working with speakers is the authenticity, the ability for a speaker to get up on stage and actually truly connect with the other human beings there, that’s the distinction between somebody who’s a fantastic, amazing world class speaker. There’s a ton of people out there that have the ability to just repeat the academic language that they’ve been taught, let’s say, or formulating opinions based on other people’s ideas and that’s a bad thing. I think all ideas sort of come back from other places that have been referenced throughout history, but everybody having their own experiences and being uniquely themselves is the thing that allows you to connect with another person. You can’t mimic that in another way and so it sounds like you’re not only helping them understand themselves, but you’re also giving them a stronger vehicle let’s say, to actually make connection to the people that they’re sharing their ideas with. Would you agree with that?
Tricia: That’s my hope Austin and it’s also why I told so many personal stories and why I really share my history as a dancer and where I moved from and what it was like living in New York City so that I could share those personal stories, give people an opportunity to relate to me so that they can say if she can, I can. And that’s really important to me.
Austin: Hear, hear. So, there’s some words that we know you’ve tossed around purpose, values, and mission. Can you tell us how those things fit into the influential voice?
Tricia: For sure. When we are clear on our purpose, why we get up every morning, then when we’re tired, when things aren’t working out, when there’s a hiccup or a challenge of some sort, we can always just go back to the purpose and stay on course and on track. When we’re clear with what our values are and that’s our values, not the values that we instilled from our parents that we’ve brought into our lives from our past, it’s really understanding what our unique personal values are and then when you marry purpose and values, you get the mission. And the mission is really what your purpose is with the strategy behind how you’re going to accomplish it. And the reason purpose, values and mission are so important and why the book starts off with getting clear on those is because if you are a speaker and you’re talking about something, whether it’s from a stage, on a blog post, on an interview, on a podcast, Facebook live, anything, you go off course, or if someone challenges you and you go off course, you can just realign yourself to that north star, which is your purpose, your values and your mission.
And when you’re clear on those three tenants, you will show up consistently and anybody knows when you are online and you’re showing up consistently, that is how you’re going to earn the trust over time from your audience and from your potential clients. And that’s something that many people get lost. They’re not clear on purpose, values and mission. They’re flailing all over the place with who they are, what they think, what they believe in. Nobody can trust who they are because it’s not consistent. So that’s why purpose, value and mission are your north star.
Taylorr: [Inaudible 21:15] Liked you summed all of that up, especially the trust factor in our digital world as well and you see a bunch of content from one person about a bunch of different things, it’s hard to know what one thing that person might be good to help you with so it makes the decision-making process a lot more muddled. So, I’m really glad you brought in because normally when we talk about purpose, values and missions, because I don’t think these are really unknown objects to people in the business community, right? But often they don’t know how to conceptualize those three things and how they apply to one, the direction of their business, but also to the direction of their clients and actually acquiring the business that they need. It’s a cool take and thank you for sharing all of that. I’m curious though, we’ve been talking about this influential voice, everyone has an influential voice or it potentially can be found, but as you know, finding that influential voice is a journey to put it lightly. Are there any methods or things people can do to help kind of hone in their purpose, mission, values or just find their influential voice? For the listeners out there who might be wondering, am I already in line with my influential voice? How can they discover how to find it?
Tricia: I think first if you can trust that what you have to say matters, that’s the first step. And then remember that everything that comes out of your mouth is going to impact someone. Which is why choosing your words wisely, making sure that you’re clear on how you’re showing up in the world and who you are in the world. First, it’s got to start with knowing who you are. And when you know who you are, and you do that self-exploration and you really work on developing who you are and understanding who that is, then you’re going to move into how you’re going to show up for others. By communicating, whether it’s simply having conversations over the dinner table, even more complex, having conversations with your students in a classroom, even more complex, having conversations with larger groups in a summit of some sort, whether it’s virtual or live, and then moving into the thought leadership space. So, you want to start by building blocks, you want to be prepared to practice what it means, being an influential voice, because you’ll continue to get more and more opportunities to expand your voice and your reach. It really comes down though, to knowing who you are and what your message is and getting clear on that before you begin [inaudible 24:04].
Taylorr: Very, very concise, easy to put into practice too. I think sometimes self-exploration is honestly the hardest part about that and then how that tie into everything, because that is the starting point. Just knowing yourself, being confident in yourself, knowing the value that you provide, all of that has to transcend through the rest of those steps in order to acquire the business, to get people to trust you, to you to feel like you have an impact on people. It’s hard work that you put in.
Tricia: It is, and I think when you can find a community that you trust that can reflect back who you know you are so that you can see that and you can be okay, it’s being reflected back on me so that means I must be in alignment here. I think that’s another key is that find a community, spend time with people that you can trust, who are going to reflect back, how you’re showing up with feedback that’s positive and with feedback that is also critical so that you can improve and you can make those adjustments. That’s also part of this.
Taylorr: Yeah, for sure. Wow, Tricia, this has been… I feel like this is the reason why we love doing these shows. We just learn so much and being able to bring your ideas to the table and I feel like I have a new concept for understanding how I influence people outside of just the work we do every day. I tend to focus more on the professional end of the spectrum a lot of the time than even the personal end of the spectrum and trying to have influence. So, I’m very excited to finish the rest of the book, and as you know, we’re all about creating value for our audience. The book is one of the things you’re working on and we’ll make sure we have show notes and links to that at the bottom but is there anything else you’re working on that our listeners can benefit from or things they can glean from you?
Tricia: Well, The Big Talk Academy is my 12 weeks speaker certification program. And what I’m super excited about is being able to take people on the journey of finding their influential voice, learning how to write a speech, learning how to perform it and ultimately becoming a certified speaker through my process. So that’s really, really exciting. And I would also love to offer your community chapter one of The Influential Voice for free.
Taylorr: Wow, awesome. Well, I will make sure there are a link to both of those in the show notes so if you haven’t yet, be sure to check those out. Hey, if you liked this episode, don’t forget to rate 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 out, 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.