How Silence Can Lead to Success

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Looking for practical advice and training from the world’s most successful speakers? The Speaker Lab Podcast features business tactics, tips, and strategies from the world’s most successful speakers. We post transcripts of every episode as resources to help you build your speaking business.

Maryalice: Hey everyone, Mary Alice Goldsmith here — Director of Student Success. I am so glad to be with you today on The Speaker Lab Podcast. It’s a true honor to have the opportunity to introduce you to some of our incredible students. I promise you’re going to learn so much from their experiences and be inspired by their perseverance and success today.

It’s my privilege to introduce you to Jason Dietrich from Harleysville, Pennsylvania. Jason, we so appreciate you taking the time and sharing your story and your journey about how you ended up here at The Speaker Lab and where you’re going and the journey of your speaking business. So welcome – how are you doing?

Jason: I’m doing very well. Thanks! It’s definitely a hot one here today. It’s 98 degrees here, so definitely a good day to stay indoors in the air conditioning.

Maryalice: Great day to stay inside and record a podcast. How about that?

Jason: Exactly — awesome.

Maryalice: So I’d love to know, when did you make the decision to pursue speaking full-time?

Jason: Yeah, that’s a wonderful question, Maryalice. It’s such an honor to be here. So in terms of me deciding to become a speaker I’ll take you back to when I was a senior in college, particularly in my fall semester. Myself and about 14 other students at my university were selected to be a part of the millennium fellowship experience. And that experience was connected to the United Nations. And what we actually did was we created a project called the 1742 model because that’s when my college or actually university was founded. As part of our particular project, I was a part of the education subcommittee, and we actually traveled to local elementary schools, middle schools, even my alma mater high school, where I actually gave a public speaking presentation on the 17 sustainable development goals.

And because of the great work that we did, one of the campus networks called the millennium campus network actually invited me to speak at the United Nations headquarters in New York City in the spring semester of my senior year. So that was definitely a phenomenal experience.

And I was nervous! You know, speaking at the UN, but I do have to tell you it was such a tremendous experience. I spoke to millions of people all around the globe. From there that really solidified my interest in public speaking and also motivational speaking. I really enjoyed traveling around to local schools around the area and because I got such a global perspective, especially on the 17 sustainable development goals, I knew this was something that I wanted to do.

Maryalice: That’s awesome. You know we all go to college in hopes to create a future. And you don’t realize, these are the things that it’s hard to sell college to people because, you know, there’s those little nuances of just living life and doing different things, experiencing different things. And because of that college experience, it really opened up this whole world for you as a speaker. It’s really awesome.

So you get done with college and you move on and become an adult. And if I remember correctly, you’re in education, correct?

Jason: Yes. I am a STEM educator. I’ve actually had more than three years of STEM teaching experience and a whole variety of avenues. So there is a lot of speaking there in the front of the classroom.

Maryalice: So what made you say on top of all the work that I’m doing, I really want to start building a business around speaking? Obviously you just came off of telling me the story of what inspired you to do it, but why now?

How Jason Found His Passion

Jason: Yeah, that was very interesting. So believe it or not after I graduated from my university, I remember I came across a particular ad and it was from Grant Baldwin. At first I had no idea what this particular ad was, or you know, if it was a scam because you know, there are scams out there.  But based on something like that, I heard his two minute pitch or something like that, about how they’ve gotten speakers to become motivational speakers to an audience and also to get paid from it.

And I was thinking, based on my work as a millennium fellow and also through speaking at the United Nations headquarters, I wanted to learn some more information. So what I did was I dug around the website, I did my research and I just saw all the positive comments from all of the speakers who have gone through the program.

I actually made some connections — I’ve connected with Erick Rheam — he’s been a wonderful mentor for me, a wonderful speaker and has given me lots of great advice. And then I also connected with Brittany Richmond and Ron Smith.

It was interesting after COVID came and the country shut down as, I’m sure everybody can agree, it was very stressful for everybody.

Since I was still a teacher, what I wanted to do was broaden my experience a little bit. I was very interested in the program, but what I wanted to do was kind of solidify my message and my take a little bit, but I actually finally decided to pull the trigger this past year. Unfortunately, as a teacher I felt very restricted in terms of what I could do in the classroom and how much I could do it, and I felt like I couldn’t really expand out as effectively as I could.

So what I actually did was I made the brave and bold decision to resign from my placement and focus on my speaking career, because believe it or not Maryalice these last several months, I’ve enjoyed waking up in the morning. And I loved waking up with a smile on my face because I know that this is my new passion. In the month of October of 2021, I actually enrolled in the program after I spoke with Ron Smith and made the payment — and I was like, oh my goodness, are you out of your mind? And so I was like, you know, this is it. This is for real. But based on that I have to say that the overall journey of becoming a speaker has been absolutely tremendous. I know what I want to do. I felt like God gave me a very special gift inside and he wanted me to pursue this because I’ve got teaching experience, but now I need to expand out a little bit.

So I took the risk and I went for it and I don’t regret it. And I’ve loved this journey.

Maryalice: Well, that’s amazing. I don’t know if I knew that story, that you actually quit being a teacher. And you’re touching on something — 2020 has been so challenging, you know this whole COVID and lockdowns and especially, not to disqualify anybody else, but on our teachers having to teach via zoom and the kids having to acclimate to that and just so many adjustments. I hear often from the teachers that I know that getting back into school was really, really challenging. But while I don’t love that you went through that, what I love about your story is that you went through the challenge and you said no, this is unacceptable to me. I’m not going to live this way. I’m not going to be miserable. I’m not going to put myself in a classroom and not show up as my best self. I’m going to make a decision and do better. And I think that’s such a powerful message to anyone who’s listening today. If you’re stuck or you’re feeling frustrated, or life just keeps throwing punches at you, you don’t have to keep getting knocked down.

Jason: I think COVID, as stressful as it has been, I think it’s given everybody a little bit of an awakening call to say “I want to reevaluate parts of my life and life experiences, and for that particular dream I want to pursue, I think now is the time.

So we can definitely relate to a lot of people that are going through this, but like I said, this is exactly what I wanted to do. I know that some people might not want to be a speaker, which is fine. I know it’s not for everyone. But, you know, this is my dream, so I’m living it currently and I really enjoy it.

The SKY Acronym

Maryalice: That’s so awesome. So tell me, what is the topic that you speak on and who is your audience?

Jason: Yeah, that’s a great question. So in terms of my speaking audience, I actually speak to K-12 students and teachers. And what I primarily focus on with them is to help both students and teachers embrace their uniqueness so they can live a life filled with passion and purpose.

And there’s this one acronym that I primarily use that has actually allowed me to live a life filled with passion and purpose that I definitely want to pass down to others. And the acronym that I primarily use is called sky SKY. And this is just a short three letter acronym and believe it or not it relates to what is your why, but it’s a little different.

The letter S has the particular phrase, which is spend time by yourself. I know growing up as a little kid, I remember when I was five years old, I was diagnosed and struggled with reading comprehension. And unfortunately, early on throughout my educational journey, I didn’t have a whole lot of teachers that were very supportive of me.

I struggled mentally, emotionally, and, you know, physically because of the lack of support with my skill sets and abilities. So it wasn’t until middle school and even high school where all the difference was made for me. So my teachers actually saw that I struggled, they sat down with me and they helped me to see that even though I struggle with reading comprehension, I knew I had to work twice as hard compared to somebody else who didn’t struggle with it. But at the same time, I discovered so many talents that I never even knew I possessed. So believe it or not, some people may consider spending time alone as a negative thing.

A lot of times we get accustomed to social media — we get sucked into that and you know, it often distracts from who we are as individuals. So that’s why I’m not on social media as much. I don’t really post a whole lot on social media just to be honest. But you know, from there, because I’ve been able to spend time by myself that allowed me to then go into my K part of my phrase for sky, which is know and understand.

I knew stem was my big passion. So because I loved thinking like a scientist and solving problems and critically thinking about concepts, it was very cool. So what I did there was through spending time alone, I knew that I wanted to pursue something in that area and then I went to Moravian University and got my Bachelor of Science degree and I wanted to be a teacher. But then later on due to the circumstances with feeling restricted in the classroom, there was a new dream that came about, especially through talking at the United Nations where there was a little bit of a career trajectory for me.

What happened then was since I knew I wanted to be a full-time motivational speaker, this then led me into my why, which is you own them. You go for them. That is really something that allows me to be positive. And, you know when you know that you want to do something, if you have a dream or a passion, you should go for it.

You don’t let somebody tell you that you can’t do something. So that’s primarily what I speak on. And based on my first speaking engagement that I did this past May, the teachers that I spoke to loved it. And my principal thought that my creative idea through ebbs and flows was very creative.

Maryalice: Awesome. I really love the whole SKY acronym and what it stands for. And it really speaks to who you are as a person. And how you’re not just teaching this, but you lived it. Interesting how the K — know your passion and purpose — interesting how you were feeling held back in the classroom or maybe boxed in, and it was preventing you from fulfilling your purpose and your passion as a teacher, and you did something about it.

So I think that really speaks to how you live your life. And so you practice what you preach, basically. It’s powerful. I think too, the other thing is that being in silence — it’s such a huge benefit that oftentimes we miss. For about 15 years, I did youth ministry at my church and one of the things I would teach the kids is that when you get up in the morning, just spend five minutes in silence.

Don’t race to pick up your cell phone, don’t run and turn the TV on, don’t turn the music on — really try to sit in silence. And a lot of them were like, “Ugh, come on. That’s boring. I have things to do.” But when we think about this, when we wake up, the TV goes on — when we get in the car, the radio goes on. When we get to the office, we’re talking all day to all these people.

We get back in our car, the radio goes on. When we get back home, we turn the TV on. If you’re spending so much time with noise, it’s really hard to hear the calling of your soul, which is your purpose and your passion. So I always encourage people if you’re struggling or if you really want to live on purpose, you have to quiet down a little bit and really discover.

Jason: It’s definitely difficult with the technology, as I’ve said before, the technology is definitely great with some innovations with healthcare and especially with the vaccines with COVID, but you know, if you get addicted to it, you can get really sucked into some unusual specs or it could lead you down a bad path. Back when my grandmother taught — she was a teacher and a principal, they didn’t have all the technology that we have now. So in some ways it was good, in some ways it wasn’t — same thing with now. But like I said before, that’s why I’m not on social media as much. I want to focus on who I am and not get distracted and it’s helped.

The Benefits of Silence

Maryalice: What advice would you give someone that is really struggling to just sit in silence and just be still with themselves?

Jason: You know in terms of advice that I would share, I can relate to this as a teacher and as an educator. When I first got my full-time seventh grade science teaching position at a school district near the Gettysburg area, that was right when COVID was around. And there was this whole debate —  are we going to be in school, are we going to be virtual? That was a particular year where we had no idea what was going on and whenever my students would ask, the response was, “I don’t know, we’re just going to have to wait and see and take it day by day.” So my advice is, there have been instances (especially with me as a teacher) where I’ve been mentally drained and mentally exhausted.

And I think that all of us, not just here in the United States, but around the world, with the COVID 19 pandemic has really made people very depressed and very emotionally and mentally drained. So what I primarily do to help shut my mind off a little bit, because I struggled with that, is usually I come up with a to-do list.

Now, usually what I would do on the to-do list as a teacher is I would have nine or 10 different things because, you know, as a teacher, it’s not a nine to five day job. So after five o’clock you come home, you’re either grading assignments, you’re following up with students’ questions or, you know, also emailing parents as well.

But you know, based on something like that, I had real difficulty shutting my mind off. But what I primarily do with the to-do list is instead of having nine or 10 different things, like I used to have, what I wrote down was what I needed to accomplish that day. And I only set about three, maybe four things to accomplish for the day. That’s a lot more doable. And that has given me the opportunity to spread out some of those other objectives that I need to complete.

One of the tasks, believe it or not, is to meditate for 30 minutes in silence. So based on that,  I always set forth a guideline that allows me to sit still or you know, you could lie down on your bed.

But usually what I do then is I set a timer for a couple minutes after, and then it wakes me up [if I fall asleep]. So yes, based on doing that by allowing me to meditate as one of the main goals and then having, you know, two or three, you should have no more than four things to accomplish for each day.

That has really allowed me to relax a little bit and that has allowed me to unwind. And that has really helped me to be even more productive than having nine or 10 things on the list because then your brain starts to wander and that’s when you get mentally drained.

Maryalice: That’s, that’s really awesome. In fact that’s what some of the most successful people live by. You have three major priorities that you have to get done and sure, like we all have to shower that doesn’t need to go on your list. But we all need to brush our teeth that doesn’t need to go on your list. It’s like the major three things that you need to accomplish for the day. And like you said, if it needs to be before that day, that’s okay. But it’s once we start stockpiling all these things that we need to do, that’s what tosses us off our game and then overwhelm seeps in. And then you’re not the best version of yourself. You’re just, you know, a crazy person all over the place, you know?

The other thing too, about meditation and practicing being in silence, it really helps speakers.  I’ll tell you why, and I know you know where I’m going with this…but before you get on that stage, if there’s a thousand people in the audience, you have to have a certain mindset and you have to own that stage and you have to be in a mindset of control and confidence and really be present for yourself and for your audience.

And so practicing that skill of meditation, how has that helped you in terms of your speaking?

Jason: Yeah, well, believe it or not I can tell you in terms of when I got my first public speaking engagement, I remember as soon as I walked into my alma mater high school, and I knew I was going to speak with some teachers who were my former teachers, it was very exciting, but I was also very nervous as I’m sure you can imagine. So I remember setting up and thinking, first of all — I’m a human being and they are human beings as well. They’re just people, and I’m speaking just like what you and I are doing right now with this podcast – we’re just having a conversation.

So based on something like that, you know, because of guided meditation that I’ve done previously before, that helps me to get into a mindset. Number one is that we’re all human beings. Nobody’s perfect. And, you know, everybody can make mistakes. With guided meditation it allows me to provide a certain point in the room to look at when I’m speaking. And it allows me to focus on that point. Now, obviously what I would do as well is make sure that I would look at other members of the audience as well, but I wouldn’t necessarily look directly at them because it’d be kind of weird.

In terms of reaching your audience if you do impact everyone, that’s fantastic. But if you say that you’re going to impact everybody in that audience, you’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself. So sometimes what I would do through meditation is it would help me to relax my mind a little bit and really help me to understand what my expectations are as the speaker.

So by doing that, this has proven to be very effective. And it also allows me to do the very best that I can to be as positive as I can. And make a difference for, you know, one person or more.

Maryalice: Yeah. If you’re scatterbrained, you can’t bring your authentic self to the table. And so it’s a really important element as a speaker to — as my brother’s wife says — be where your feet are, be really present in that moment, for yourself and for the people that you’re speaking to.

So those of you who don’t meditate start with 30 seconds every morning. And then before, you know, it ‘ll be up to 30 minutes. And if you take a nap, there’s no judgment because meditation is to feed the soul and to give the body what it needs. And so if you do happen to fall asleep and you’re listening to a guided meditation, you still receive the guided meditation in your unconscious mind.

Why The Speaker Lab?

Maryalice: I love your topic. I love that you’re practicing what you’re preaching and you know, there’s a lot of people who are listening to this podcast who would love to be a student and they’re hemming and hawing over it.

And something that comes up for them is — is this my purpose? Is this my passion? Can I actually do this? One of the things I love about you is that you felt the calling, you had the need, but you didn’t try to piecemeal everything together on your own. You came to The Speaker Lab and you said, “I need help.”

So how do you feel like that helped you condense time to accelerate the success that you’re having as a speaker?

Jason: Yeah, absolutely. I do have to say with The Speaker Lab itself, ever since I’ve had connections going all the way back to 2019, the help and support that I’ve received has been absolutely incredible — it’s been absolutely tremendous. And, you know, through one of my speaking coaches who I’ve also worked with — Jeremy Rochford — he’s amazing as well. He has really provided me a lot of guidance through our many conversations that we’ve had. And it has really allowed me to hone in on my purpose as a speaker and what message I wanted to bring.

When considering The Speaker Lab II had to evaluate it — I’m a STEM teacher, I evaluate things all the time.

So through the use of the scientific method, you know the first thing that you do is identify a problem and through the use of The Speaker Lab two minute pitch I saw that they help speakers solve a problem and they help them to identify it.

And I thought, that’s a very good step because that’s one of the first things that you want to do is to identify what the problem is. So that then led me to the second step, which was some background research. So I did a little bit of research about the program and I saw a lot of positive comments from students and fellow coaches as well. So I thought, well then because of this, this is a great program. This is a program that’s not going to take advantage of you or anybody. So then I went into the experiment which was the next stage. So, what I did was I reached out to fellow coaches and I connected with them. I was beyond impressed with their support and also their knowledge too. They were incredibly knowledgeable about the speaking industry. And as you know, everybody speaks in different industries, so I was just very impressed with the variety of speakers and also how positive they were.

So based on that particular experiment, I knew what I had to do then was get enrolled.

And there was another check mark in the box, because The Speaker Lab said that in order to be a speaker you have to work. You not only have to own your passion and own your craft, but you have to work to get up there to the top.

You know I analyzed my results after that gig at my alma mater based on the positive feedback that I got from my principal and the comment that I saw and that I read to my speaker coach, and we were both thrilled. You can’t get any better than that. So, based on that, I know that I’ve got the message. I know it’s positive. People are reacting very positively to it.

So then later on at the final stage of the scientific method I wanted to draw a conclusion. So my conclusion was that this was absolutely worth it based on this particular program, it was very detailed.

I do look back and based on the positive feedback that I’ve gotten, it’s given me the motivation to continue on and to get to that point of being a full-time speaker.

Maryalice: Well, first of all, that is amazing. I mean, could you get any more thorough than that to make a decision about your life? Very impressive. But you just touched on something in your last point — so you make this decision, you come on board, you now have the speaking business, but through the journey it’s that confidence, right? It’s that confidence to have the audacity to go back to your alma mater and speak at your school.

Most people who are struggling to build speaking — it’s because they don’t have that confidence and clarity. And that’s our mission here at The Speaker Lab. We want to give our students the confidence, the clarity, and a clear path to their speaking business success.

What would you say to one of our students who are in the middle of the program? Maybe they’re starting to look for leads and events, and maybe they’re feeling imposter syndrome or frustrated. What kind of advice would you give them in terms of their purpose and their passion?

Jason: That’s definitely a wonderful question. I would say to all of the fellow speakers that are out there that are in my boat, I’m definitely with you. You know I enrolled in this particular program last October of 2021. So it’s been close to a year that I’ve been reaching out. I’ve honed my message and I’ve honed my craft and you know, there’s still some things that I’m figuring out currently right now, which that’s okay. That’s, that’s not a big deal because obviously since this is brand new, you know, there’s some things that you have to figure out. But what I would really encourage you to do, number one is first of all, if you have a message, you have to hone your craft and get your message out there. You have a website and a demo video as well. That’s a huge stepping stone to get you towards those speaking engagements. So because people definitely want to see you’re legit and a website is a great way to showcase that you are a legit speaker. Event managers or event planners definitely want to see that they’re hiring someone who is serious and who is qualified.

So if you definitely have all of that information, then that’s a huge step. What I would also encourage you with is, if you’re caring about what you do, then you’re definitely going to go a long way.

And if you’re compassionate as well. Then that definitely makes the difference as well. The third thing, which is most important, is you have to have good communication skills. And that was very essential for me as a teacher and as an educator. You have to be willing to reach out for help. The Speaker Lab team members are more than willing to help you out in any way, shape, or form.

And then finally, what you have to know is that with your particular message and your speaking journey, your life is not going to go from point A to point B. It’s gonna be a zig-zag. There are some days in your business where you’re going to be walking on cloud nine and other days you’re going to be low.

You also have to be able to accept feedback as well. So if you’re not doing something right, you need some help on that, then you’ve got to be honest with your coaches, but you have to be willing to accept feedback because if you’re not, if you’re not that team player, then that’s not really going to get you anywhere.

Maryalice: That’s such great advice. It’s really for anyone who’s a current student and anyone who wants to be a student. This isn’t just like, let me invest and they’re going to do all the things. No, we come together with you in union with your journey.

But you have to do the work that’s really important. It’s your business, right? And that’s something that takes work no matter who you are.

Jason, you are amazing. I love all of your little acronyms and your three Cs and your SKY, you really dropped some serious knowledge nuggets today.

if you’re listening, just start sitting in silence, just start with 30 seconds. Before you know, you’ll be up to five minutes and then maybe 15 minutes. But again, there’s no rules, you know, it doesn’t mean the more you sit in silence, the better person you’re going to be. But the world’s a little crazy, everything’s moving so fast to just pause and be still. And don’t put that pressure of having to do all the things by Monday. Split it up your top priorities.

Well Jason, you’re awesome. We appreciate your time. We thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today and we hope everyone who’s listening, you guys go have a fabulous day.

If you enjoyed this transcript, click below to check out the full podcast episode! 

Want to know exactly what to say to finally land paid speaking gigs?

We’ll send you the exact three emails you can send to conference planners and event organizers that Grant Baldwin (our founder) used to book over $2M in speaking gigs. 

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