Unlocking Happiness to Grow Your Business with Bruce Wawrzyniak [Transcript]

Table of Contents

Maryalice Goldsmith 

Hello, everyone. Maryalice Goldsmith here, the Director of Student Success. I am thrilled to be joining you on The Speaker Lab Podcast. It’s a true honor for me to introduce you to some of our incredible students. I assure you that their experiences will offer invaluable lessons, and their determination and accomplishments will surely inspire you. Today, I am excited to have Bruce Wawrzyniak with me. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us today and share your journey with The Speaker Lab.

I’m aware that your topic revolves around five effective ways to overcome obstacles and enhance productivity and happiness. I must say, I love that topic. We could all use a little more happiness, right? However, what motivated you to choose this specific subject?

What motivated you to explore happiness as a topic?

Bruce Wawrzyniak

It’s quite similar to what you just mentioned. We all could greatly benefit from increased happiness. It’s a particularly timely subject given the aftermath of the pandemic and the subsequent events. Although some people might argue that we shouldn’t dwell on the past pandemic, the reality is that many are still grappling with its long-term consequences. People are experiencing lasting effects from COVID, and global issues such as the economy and conflicts add to the overall sense of distress. Even day-to-day concerns can contribute to a sense of unease. For instance, you might think these problems don’t affect you, but then you realize they indeed impact your life. Perhaps you are caring for a family member or struggling with tight finances. Maybe these challenges are affecting your work performance, such as not meeting sales targets due to personal obligations.

All these factors can lead to a downward spiral. I wanted to help people recognize that there are actionable steps to confront these issues. The key is to not only acknowledge the problems but also to find ways to manage and overcome them.

Maryalice Goldsmith 

Your perspective is truly valuable. It’s vital to shift from dwelling on problems to seeking solutions. Your focus on enhancing happiness can lead to discovering unexpected solutions. I appreciate your acknowledgement of the widespread impact of the pandemic. It affected our social lives, our children, and led to various forms of loss. Moreover, as we reach a certain age, we often find ourselves raising children and caring for aging parents. This multifaceted reality makes your topic even more relevant. Additionally, for our fellow speakers, dealing with stress and feeling overwhelmed can hinder their pursuit of becoming successful professional speakers. This adds to the burden of stress versus happiness. It can lead to postponing investments in self-improvement, which in turn perpetuates feelings of heaviness. How do we motivate ourselves to invest in personal growth and pursue our professional speaking goals despite these challenges?

Bruce Wawrzyniak

You’ve highlighted an essential aspect. We often fall into the trap of making excuses. A friend of mine once shared an insightful idea with me. He mentioned that we have approximately 50,000 thoughts each day. The crucial decision is which thoughts to embrace. Will we choose to focus on negative, debilitating thoughts, or will we opt for positive, uplifting ones that can shape our entire day? Your point, Maryalice, is entirely accurate. By selecting negative thoughts, we risk falling into a pattern of excuses and inaction. For instance, you might say to yourself, “I’m too busy to start The Speaker Lab now,” or “I can’t invest time in building my speaking career at the moment.”

However, this mindset can lead to further stagnation. Down the line, you’ll notice that others around you are securing speaking engagements while you remain stagnant. Thus, it’s essential to take control of our thoughts and avoid letting them dictate our actions.

Maryalice Goldsmith 

Absolutely. We should heed the wisdom of the Partridge Family song and start each day on a positive note. It should become our theme song. Seriously, your insights are remarkable. Your passion for this topic is evident, and it’s profoundly impactful. While we all have different passions, your dedication to this subject is truly commendable. I’m curious, Bruce, what motivated you to speak about this topic specifically?

How did you know happiness was your topic?

Bruce Wawrzyniak 

Well, the decision to become a speaker comes first, followed by the choice of topic. Interestingly, I read a valuable tip suggesting that we should approach our LinkedIn bio from a unique angle. Inspired by this advice, I created a LinkedIn bio that humorously claims I “came out of the womb talking.” This playful phrase resonates with my background as a publicist, broadcaster, and podcaster. Naturally, speaking seemed like a natural progression. Now, regarding this topic, it’s akin to the common saying that adversity offers valuable lessons—if we learn from it. I’ve personally faced significant challenges, such as two open-heart surgeries, two strokes, a difficult divorce, a motorcycle accident, a week-long hospitalization due to COVID, and chronic atrial fibrillation since 2000.

Despite these adversities, my appearance and demeanor remain positive and optimistic. This topic resonated with me because of the authenticity I bring to it. I can relate to people dealing with challenges and help them navigate their way forward. I selected this topic because it’s grounded in my own experiences, and I’m dedicated to assisting others by sharing practical tips that have personally worked for me.

Maryalice Goldsmith 

Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. I’d like to acknowledge the significant challenges you’ve faced, as you’ve shared, and how you’ve consciously chosen to cultivate happiness and share that wisdom with others. It’s important to realize that by empowering people to make the choice for happiness, you’ll have a profound impact that extends far and wide. Your influence might travel from a mom who feels happier and returns home to her family, spreading positivity to her children and spouse. This ripple effect is truly powerful. Kudos to you for your commitment to this impactful topic.

Bruce Wawrzyniak 

Thank you. I appreciate it.

Maryalice Goldsmith 

Absolutely. Now, moving on, I’m curious, what circumstances or challenges in your speaking career led you to discover The Speaker Lab and realize, “I truly need their guidance”?

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What challenges lead you to The Speaker Lab?

Bruce Wawrzyniak 

Certainly, I had accumulated a fair amount of speaking engagements. However, there was a focus on quantity over quality. While the events I spoke at were decent, the compensation wasn’t significant. I recognized that to start as a speaker, you need the practice and experience, even if that means speaking for free or in less-than-ideal settings. But at that point, I felt it was time to elevate my speaking journey. Although I’m not very active on Facebook, I occasionally encounter various ads on the platform. Somehow, the algorithm detected my interest in speaking, and I came across ads from The Speaker Lab. I felt an instant connection with Grant and the program. While I understand it’s largely an outcome of algorithms, I sensed a genuine alignment with The Speaker Lab.

Instead of dwelling on my speaking gigs, complaining or accepting mediocrity, I decided it was time to take action. I could either continue with the same level of happiness and contentment. Or I could invest in professional training to enhance my presentation, secure better opportunities, command higher fees, and confidently introduce myself as a professional speaker. I didn’t want to be someone who casually claims to enjoy speaking but isn’t wholeheartedly committed to the pursuit. I wanted to actively chase speaking engagements. The Speaker Lab seemed like the ideal resource to guide me in this endeavor.

Maryalice Goldsmith 

Absolutely, aiming for both happiness and success is perfectly valid. Your determination to seek professional guidance is commendable. Now, reflecting on your journey with the Speaker Lab, could you share the impact of the SPEAK framework on your personal growth as a speaker and your professional speaking business?

Tell us about the SPEAK Framework.

Bruce Wawrzyniak 

Certainly, when considering the SPEAK framework, particularly the elements of Solving a Problem and Establishing Your Expertise, I found them highly relevant to my experiences and aspirations. Given my background and the challenges I’ve overcome, I can effectively address the audience’s concerns and provide practical solutions to alleviate stress and enhance productivity and happiness. Furthermore, with my extensive personal journey, I have a well-established expertise in this area. The SPEAK framework provided a structure that allowed me to crystallize my focus on this topic.

While there were other potential subjects, the framework assisted me in realizing that this topic resonates deeply with me and aligns with my expertise. It’s not a mere whim but a subject I can confidently and authentically address. The Speaker Lab’s guidance and the SPEAK framework contributed significantly to this clarity, reinforcing my confidence in pursuing this meaningful topic. As the saying goes, hope is not a strategy. The Speaker Lab helped me move beyond hopeful wishes and provided a concrete pathway to enhance my speaking career and impact.

Maryalice Goldsmith 

Absolutely, I wholeheartedly embrace the notion of confidence, as it aligns perfectly with our mission to empower students with self-assurance and clarity for their speaking ventures. Building confidence is essential in charting a clear path towards success. Without it, individuals may find themselves simply wishing and hoping, tossing ideas without a clear direction. It’s truly gratifying to hear you embrace this concept, as the framework’s goal is to instill confidence, and it’s fantastic to witness its resonance with you. Could you elaborate on the outcomes you’ve observed in your speaking endeavors since implementing The Speaker Lab’s guidance?

What kind of growth have you and your business seen?

Bruce Wawrzyniak 

Certainly, your question is thought-provoking. My immediate response might involve listing bookings and fee increases. However, a notable transformation I’ve experienced lies in my perspective toward speaking opportunities. I’ve learned to assess them with a discerning eye, a trait I might not have fully embraced before. In the past, I would eagerly seize any chance to speak, driven by the desire to show consistent activity. However, The Speaker Lab, along with the complimentary Gig Salad membership, has shifted my approach. I recall an instance when I received a speaking request for an engagement in Clearwater.

Initially, I might have jumped at the opportunity, considering it’s a relatively short distance from Tampa. Yet, armed with the Speaker Lab’s teachings, I paused and evaluated the situation through a more strategic lens. I reevaluated my pricing, ensuring I adhered to my newfound principles rather than slipping into old habits. I conducted a thorough assessment of the engagement’s logistical factors, realizing that the overall time commitment far exceeded the event itself. The practice of saying no, or reevaluating opportunities, as The Speaker Lab encourages, allowed me to prioritize my time and resources more effectively. While it’s true that this particular engagement did not materialize, I derive immense satisfaction from my ability to apply the Speaker Lab’s lessons.

I stood firm in maintaining my value and professionalism during the negotiation process. I’m pleased that I can perceive these instances as victories, demonstrating my commitment to implementing The Speaker Lab’s teachings and steering my speaking business with confidence.

Maryalice Goldsmith 

You’ve conveyed a crucial insight that goes beyond the mere tally of bookings or fee increases. Your newfound discernment and ability to strategically evaluate opportunities are incredibly valuable. This shift in perspective reflects your growth as a business owner and speaker. Recognizing when to decline and making decisions aligned with your expertise and value is a pivotal aspect of leadership in your speaking business. Your ability to stand your ground and submit a professional bid while fully acknowledging the possibility of rejection is truly commendable. It’s evident that you’ve embraced the concept of a CEO mindset, skillfully navigating the balance between seizing opportunities and wisely investing your time. Your transparency in sharing your experience is both enlightening and inspirational. Is there anything else you’d like to share regarding the impact of your engagement with The Speaker Lab and how it has influenced your approach to speaking?

Have you changed how you approach speaking?

Bruce Wawrzyniak 

Indeed, The Speaker Lab’s influence extends even further, shaping my perception of potential speaking engagements and how I approach them. Previously, I might have regarded each opportunity through a narrower lens, primarily focusing on the immediate benefit or location. However, The Speaker Lab has cultivated a broader perspective, enabling me to consider the event’s alignment with my topic, goals, and even its long-term implications. I now evaluate speaking opportunities with a strategic approach, assessing whether the engagement resonates with my message and whether it serves as a platform to amplify my expertise. Furthermore, The Speaker Lab’s emphasis on active pursuit rather than passive acceptance has propelled me to be proactive in seeking speaking engagements. This shift has been instrumental in my growth as a professional speaker.

Additionally, maintaining open and transparent communication with event organizers, even when declining an opportunity, has nurtured valuable relationships and kept doors open for future collaborations. The Speaker Lab has fundamentally altered my outlook, instilling the conviction that I am not merely a passive speaker but an empowered CEO of my speaking business. I’m grateful for the transformative impact The Speaker Lab has had on my journey and the tangible steps it has provided to enhance my speaking endeavors.

Maryalice Goldsmith 

Yeah, no, that’s really important.

Okay, so if someone’s listening and they know they have a message, maybe they’ve even been speaking here and there, but they also know they want to make it an actual business. They want to be making that money, they want to be happy. They want to be energized by it. What advice would you give them?

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a speaker?

Bruce Wawrzyniak 

Don’t wait, don’t wait. Life is too short. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. I mean, these are all clichés, but they’re all so applicable. They’re so applicable, and there’s so much to be learned in The Speaker Lab that you don’t know what you don’t know. Even if you are someone who has said, “I’m good, I’ve done plenty of speaking, I just need to be more devoted to becoming a full-time speaker.”

You don’t know what you don’t know. And you’re going to get into the course, and The Speaker Lab is going to open you up to things where you’re going to say, “Well, I guess I didn’t realize that. I guess I could stand to change this approach. That’s a good suggestion that I hadn’t considered—different resources that will become available.” I think it’s really easy to get caught up in just being comfortable and saying, “I’ve been speaking a long time, or I have a lot to offer people, I have a lot to say to people.” I hear people say that a lot. “Oh, I’ll speak anywhere, I can talk to anybody.” I get the spirit with which they’re saying that. But when you’re really honing in on one message, it’s a totally different ballgame, so true.

Maryalice Goldsmith 

What do they say when you try to speak to everyone? You speak to no one. So we drive that home big time here at The Speaker Lab. It’s amazing when you do define your lane, how fast you drive in that lane. That confidence and clarity, you manage that lane so well versus, “Oh yeah, I could speak on this, I could speak on this, I could speak on this.” So you’re not an expert in anything, you’re just a speaker on all these different topics. I think what you just said is really important.

Bruce Wawrzyniak

Yeah, there’s a friend of mine who many years ago, when I was leaving a job for another job, he just kind of looked at me and I said, I know. I said, “Well, I’ve got some other things going too that I’ll also be doing.” And he said, “Like what?” When I named them off, he said, “Bruce, at some point you’ve got to pick one of those because you can’t do all those things at the same time and be successful at all of them. You’ve got to pick one and stick with it, and really be good at that.”

It’s like I was saying with speaking—people who think they have so many topics to talk about and so many audiences they can reach, they’re going to be average at best in all these different topics they think they have, especially if they haven’t really put in the time. The craft that The Speaker Lab teaches of actually writing out your speech. So if they just say, “I can talk on anything,” and they don’t even have anything written, they’ve not prepared anything, someone says, “Okay, well, I’d love to have you come and talk about XYZ at our event next month.”

Those people are not going to put in the time that The Speaker Lab teaches you. They’re just going to show up and wing it. There won’t be a repeat booking from that or a real happy audience walking up. There certainly won’t be a happy event planner having had them show up and just wing it. That’s not a healthy approach at all.

Maryalice Goldsmith 

No. Well, that’s a great segue into our more fun questions. We get many questions from students like, “I’d love to know from other students how they do XYZ.” So we’ll do a little rapid-fire fun questions here. But I’d love to know, how do you prep or write your speeches? Do you write every single word? Do you take more of a storyboard approach or more of a posted approach? How do you do it?

How do you prepare for a talk or a speech?

Bruce Wawrzyniak 

Write every word. I’m someone who’s very detail-oriented. It’s interesting, this question, because in my speech that we’re talking about that I do, I actually incorporate. I think it’s a total of four very short movie clips. I’m someone who’s one of those annoying people that speaks in movie lines all the time, which means I’ve kind of got them memorized. I’ve kind of got them rehearsed.

So that’s the approach that I like to take with this. Have the speech entirely written out, memorize it, and then as Grant teaches you, memorize it, but then don’t say it word for word. I do like to leave a little bit of room for embellishment here and there, or sometimes something will just come to me as I’m saying it. I’m also, at the same time, by the way, making a mental note I should go back and add that into the script. That’s good for future presentations.

Maryalice Goldsmith 

Yeah, I think the energy too, from the audience, can also lead to slight changes in the moment, which is totally fine. But noting your content is important. So for you, it’s writing every word. Do you have a pre-stage routine, like right before you’re about to get on stage, you have about 60 seconds. Do you have a routine to help you get into that speaker mindset?

What helps you get into the speaker mindset?

Bruce Wawrzyniak 

No, I’m usually pretty calm. I’ve been speaking so much throughout my life that I don’t really need to go through a final something because my last name is so difficult. I’m usually more tuned into listening to them introduce me to see how they’re going to handle my last name or just if they’re going to get the intro right. So I try not to overdo it because what’s going to happen is if you psych yourself out and start going over, this is the part that I always fumble. I got to repeat it. I got to repeat it, I got to repeat it. You’re going to get out there and you’re going to stumble over it.

That’s why it’s best to just be so prepared that you don’t have to be doing it last minute. It’s like a student that’s still looking at the book as the teacher is coming down the aisle, passing out the test. Look, you don’t know it by now, you’re not going to know it in this last minute. God bless. The content that you’re looking at in your book right now is probably going to be like question 27 on the test anyways, and you’re going to forget it by the time you get down to that one.

Maryalice Goldsmith 

Totally, yeah. Great advice. Okay. Is there something that you have to have when you speak? Some people have a lucky charm. Other people have to have slides. Some people have to have a handheld mic or a podium. Anything that you have to have?

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What do you have to have on stage with you?

Bruce Wawrzyniak 

This is a good question because I think there are some things that I have to have that I don’t realize until someone like you asks me this question. Slides I do have to have just because I kind of like the audience to have a visual to look at, especially since I do have the movie clips. But when you’re doing something like “five ways to this” or “seven ways to that” or “nine ways to,” I think the audience kind of relates with the visual, and if they see it numbered up on the slide, “Oh, this is number three. Okay.” They can write it down. So I do like the slides.

In terms of something that I keep on me, I just always carry a crucifix in my pocket seven days a week regardless. So it’s not when I go on stage, I got to make sure I have my crucifix because I always have it anyways. And yeah, it’s funny that you asked, but I have noticed that I really prefer if I have a choice, I really prefer to have a headset mic and not have to hold it. I just think it gives an entirely different look. If I have the choice, if I can make the request, I’m going to ask for it. If not, it’s not a deal breaker. But that’s kind of something that I really prefer.

Maryalice Goldsmith

Yeah. All right. Last question. What do you love most about speaking?

What do you love most about speaking?

Bruce Wawrzyniak 

Helping people. Like I said at the beginning, the fact that somebody can benefit from everything that I have been through. A lot of times I will kind of look at myself in the mirror and say, the Lord must have special plans for me, that I’m still here after everything I’ve been through. So maybe those special plans are about helping people.

Like I said before, if you go through adversity and you don’t learn anything from it, it’s a missed opportunity. Well, if other people can benefit from my adversity, then I’m really happy if somebody tells me, “Thank you so much, that’s so helpful. This is what I’m going through.” Regardless, like you said before, maybe they don’t even tell me, but they go home and they apply one or two of those things. Because of this Bruce, big, long Polish last name guy that they heard speak at their conference, now they are dealing much better with whatever challenges they’re currently facing.

Maryalice Goldsmith

Yeah. Amazing. Well, Bruce, we are really celebrating you. We appreciate you. The work that you’re doing is profound, and I truly believe you won’t ever realize the impact you’ll see it. And that’s a beautiful thing, but I think it’s going to go far and wide. Helping people become happier is such a wonderful thing that you’re doing, and we’re so proud of you, and we thank you for sharing your story with us.


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