How to be your authentic self

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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. Maryalice Goldsmith here, Director of Student Success for the Speaker Lab, and today I am taking over the podcast to present to you a fabulous student in our student highlight series. I promise you’re going to learn so much from her experiences and be inspired by her perseverance and success. I’m super excited to be here today with Deepika Sandhu.

I love your story. I think you have so much to shed light on in terms of being in the moment, listening to your intuition, your feminine brilliance, and really going after what your dreams are. And sometimes, you know, as we age or go through different life experiences, those dreams are revealed at different moments. So talk to us about that moment when you decided you wanted to speak.

Deepika: So I published a book in January of 2021 – the height of the pandemic – and a few months later I thought, You know what? I really want to do a book tour and I want to do an in-person book tour now. This was no time to be doing an in person book tour given the climate of the country and everything that was happening, but I thought it must almost be over, so I could plan it for the summer.

And I did — small, intimate, beautiful events up and down the West Coast of the United States, and it was all kinds of amazing because I would do these talks about the book and every person in the room you could feel that they were learning something, that it was connecting with them in a powerful way.

And that’s the moment I knew that I wanted to see those “aha moments,” those epiphanies, the little light bulbs go off in people’s heads all of the time, and I wanted to be able to do that from stages of varying sizes, and that was the moment I just knew that I really wanted to be a professional speaker.

Where it All Started

Maryalice: That’s amazing. So talk to us a little bit about the book too, because I feel like that ties into this.

Deepika: It absolutely does. The book is called Hello Universe. It’s Me: How I Scheduled A Breakdown and Manifested a New Life (and how you can too). And this all came from this life that I was leading where I was checking every box.

I was busy doing everything right, you know? Good kid in school, did well at college, got a great job, got promoted at that job, found a husband, had the baby, had the house, the cars, the vacations, all of it, right? Just busy checking boxes on what it means to live an amazing life. But then one day I woke up.

I couldn’t figure out if all that stuff that I was working to acquire and do, if I’d done everything, if I did all of that, how come I still wasn’t happy? How come I wasn’t feeling lit up on the inside? And that’s when I knew everything needed to change. So being a crazy type A personality, I had to actually schedule time to figure out when I could break down, and that led to many months later an episode of me crying in my closet. But I have never looked back since because I truly was able to get underneath my life and understand what needed to change in order to truly live in my most authentic way — to live a life that really aligned with myself and that really made me feel lit up from the inside like I wanted to feel.

And it wasn’t going to come from checking all those boxes that other people told me I needed to check. It was about tuning into myself and understanding what I needed in order to live my best life. And now this is exactly what I talk about on stages. And this is exactly what I help men and women, busy, hardworking professionals with day in and day out. I help them to translate what they’ve been doing into what it is they want to be doing with their lives and figuring all that out for themselves.

Maryalice: Yeah, it’s incredible. As you’re speaking, it’s really making me think of some of the students or potential students that are listening to this podcast that really want to take that leap into speaking. In their authenticity, they are meant to speak. It is their calling. But they’re being held back. And there’s something in your process that you went through with this breakdown and that I’ve watched take place with you at The Speaker Lab.

I got the pleasure of coaching you several times, and I’ve seen you capitalize on each offer or each resource that has been presented to you in a way that I don’t think some people do because they’re not ready. And that’s fine. We all have our time, but there is this permission that we have to give to have a breakdown. To let things die, to rebuild, and to go after our dreams. Do you think? Without having this breakdown, without being type A, without having to check all the boxes and then having to check yourself before you wreck yourself, do you think you would be able to be going for it the way that you’re going for it right now?

Deepika: No. I had to go through the life experiences that I went through. Good, bad, and everything in between. They’re all part of the story that got me to this point. Look, I always wanted to write a book. I wanted to be a journalist in school, but I didn’t think it was practical or tangible or a logical and financially rewarding choice for me to make.

So I made other choices. I studied economics. I enjoyed a very successful business career. I had to go through those steps to get to this moment. But what really allowed me to listen and to absorb all the different resources of The Speaker Lab and all the other things that I do, is because I started to listen to myself.

So many of us have that inner critic, that inner saboteur that is talking, talking, talking. Telling you why you can’t do something, why you shouldn’t do something. But I learned through my own process to quiet that voice down and instead start to listen to that voice within that said, You know what, Deepika, you can do it and you should do it, and you should try.

Maryalice: And I think that’s probably so true for people listening to this today because you got that inner nudge. You get that feeling that you want to go down this path and yet you hesitate and something gets in your way. And just imagine if you jump that hurdle, if you get past that hesitation, what possibilities can actually unlock for you?

Deepika: Yeah. I mean if, if you’re feeding the beast that tells you all the reasons why not, then you’re not. If you feed the power within all the reasons why, then before you know it, you’re speaking to thousands about living a better life, or better sales, or whatever it is you want to speak about.

Deepika Finds TSL 

Maryalice: It’s such a great point that you drive home. So you write the book, you go on this crazy book tour in the middle of a pandemic. Most people would say you’re crazy. And then you find this passion that you have of connecting with people through the gift of speaking and sharing your story and the knowledge that you have, so you decide to become a speaker. And then what happened? We just landed in your lap? How did you find The Speaker Lab?

Deepika: Well, I swear all these things, you know, Google and Instagram and Facebook have a chip in my brain, so I think about it, and something pops up. So I actually don’t know how I discovered you or if you all discovered me. But either way, it did start to pop up where I would see ads and information and I just thought, Oh, why is this popping up?

So however we connected, we did connect, and it has been a beautiful experience to be part of these programs because at the beginning of the program, I knew I had that inner nudge that I wanted to speak, and I knew I needed to get coached and trained on how to do that, but I didn’t know much beyond that.

I didn’t actually know what the talk was going to be. I didn’t know how it was going to go, and I didn’t even know how I would ever get on any of these stages or platforms. So those are all things that I think started to come from working with The Speaker Lab.

Maryalice: Right there you’re hitting on such a great point because that’s some of the things that are making people go, Oh no, no, I can’t do this right now or That’s not meant for me. But the beauty of where you were at in your life to give yourself permission — everything was a yes. If you felt it in your gut, you were going to go for it. And because of that, you leaned into the power of what The Speaker Lab had to offer, and it’s through coaching that more was revealed.

And I think that’s something that is scary for sure. I mean, anytime you’re leveling up, it’s definitely scary. But I think that’s what’s so impressive about you. It’s like you leaned in, you trusted the process, you leaned into the coaching big time, and all of that was revealed for you. And now look at you. Now you’re speaking on stages, internationally, you’re a busy bee over here.

Deepika: I think the really exciting part is, you know, I did say yes to myself and I had spent so much of my life saying no, or maybe not, or it’s not quite right, and trying to fit the mold of what I thought being a successful business professional looked like.

And I just finally really did want to say yes to myself and that transformation that happened at The Speaker Lab. When the call came to me that I wanted to be that speaker when I was on the book tour and I had those “aha moments” for myself that this was something I needed to do, I could say yes to investing in myself, I could say yes to investing in The Speaker Lab.

I could say yes to all the brilliant coaches there who were giving the advice and the guidance, on how to perfect my speech even if I didn’t have it all figured out when I walked in the door. I sure have it figured out now. And that transformation has just been phenomenal and exciting.

Maryalice: I remember one of our first coaching calls and you were a little — “I don’t know if I did the right thing, I’m not even sure about my talk, I don’t even know.” And I was like, deep breath, you got this because I had analyzed your talk before our call. I know you were onto something here. You have to just trust the process. I was able to have a front row seat to some of that. And it was powerful. It was really awesome to watch because you are the perfect student, right? Just lean in. Trust the process. You already said yes to yourself. The hardest part is done now.

Now we have your back. As your coaches, we’re going to give you everything you need to fly. So that was really awesome to watch. So you came into the program, you did the virtual cohort and also the Elite program. So what were some of those experiences for you? What were some of the things you finally started to see crystallize and get clarity? Talk to us about that a little bit.

Deepika: Well, the first couple classes, I didn’t have any of that clarity because my inner saboteur, that inner critic was in full force. What are you doing here? These people actually already speak. They already do all these amazing things. Look how far along they’re in their career, look at what their topics are. You’re not talking about anything like that, you know? And so those first few classes I was like, Oh my God, what am I doing here?

I stuck with it, right? And I allowed myself to go through the process. And I think what I learned from me is that so many people had my story, right? So many people wanted to be in speaking, had a topic that they felt passionate about and were ready to bring to the world. And in so many ways, we were all sort of at the same point, even if someone was a little bit ahead or a little bit behind.

And I think that was the realization that I came to hearing people share their talks in these sessions. Hearing people build their businesses, hearing people during the time we were together in the course, actually book paid deals — that was pretty amazing because the light bulb does go off that they might only be one or two steps ahead of me and I could actually get there too. That was really exciting.

Maryalice: Yeah, that’s very exciting. And that’s one of the benefits of those cohort style learnings, right? It’s like you’re in this tight knit community, you’re watching those people have success, you’re making connections outside of the cohort, and it’s inspiring.

So, after you did that, then you completed the Elite program and then you were on your laptop and Stagecraft came your way. Talk to me about what motivated you to want to do that.

Deepika: Stagecraft is pure magic. I think it’s the course that every speaker that wants to be on any stage needs to be in. It was absolutely magic because not only did we practice and develop our talks extensively. We learned all the different tips and tricks and techniques that professional speakers are using when they’re on that stage, virtual or in person.

What are the ways that they talk? How do they enunciate? How do they move across that stage? How do they command the audience? What are they actually doing? All the mechanics of being a speaker really came through in that course. And to me that was pure magic. I think the other courses were great. They were the foundations, they were the steps, they were the things I needed to know I could build a business and actually take me through that process.

But I think Stagecraft is what got me to being a paid speaker, right? It is what gave me the confidence that I could stand there, center stage, take up space, tell my story, and that it really was going to connect with people.

Maryalice: Yeah. Own that stage girl. Own that stage. Love it. You know, it’s interesting because people come to us because they want to be speakers. Most of our students are really surprised on how deep we go on the business aspect of this. Getting on stage is the easy part. But all the other things, having the art of speaking, there’s a skill to owning that stage.

Working your pipeline, doing prospecting calls, getting on actual sales calls, all of those things. Not a lot of people think about them. They just want to speak and issue a contract. But how do you actually issue a contract? What should be in it? What do you do before an event? How do you know that the stage is going to have everything that you need in order to execute a great experience for your audience? What do you do after an event? How do you capitalize on one event to make it maybe multiple events, right? There’s so much to the business of it.

Deepika: I always say the best athletes in the world have coaches, right? You’ve got to assemble your own dream team, your own board of directors — you are the CEO of whatever it is you do. So I know for sure I wouldn’t have been this far along without The Speaker Lab because I needed you guys on my team, right? I needed you guys as my coaches. I needed you guys so that I was getting the input and the information and the knowledge that I needed to do what I’m doing today. So for me, you know, assembling that team of whoever you need around you to support your vision is great. It is so easy as a solo entrepreneur to get derailed, right?

Because again, that critic starts to kick in and I’m not doing as good as that person, and this other person has already gotten five big stages and I got zero and forgot it. This isn’t for me. It’s so easy to cave into that and to give up. But again, it goes to saying yes to yourself, and part of saying yes to yourself is assembling that support structure that you need.

And it might be in the form of a coach or a mentor or whomever that might be, but I know that I got people on my team, right? I know who to call when I have questions and need that support.

Finding Your Authentic Self

Maryalice: I love how you put that and you know it’s interesting and it’s easy to say yes to yourself one day, Oh yes, I’m gonna write a book. But once you do that, you have to say yes. Every single day. You have to recommit. To that every single day. It’s like a good diet or a good fitness regimen. You can’t just do it once and be done. It’s every single day. And I think, again how I have to give kudos to you because you do wake up and say, “You know what? I’m not going to get into this mindset of, this is so hard. I am so frustrated.” You know, you’re in this mindset of, I’m doing this, this is possible. I’m going to stay tenacious. I’m gonna run this endurance race and it is happening.

So where do you get that from? Is it from this little thing you call “breakdown” or where do you get it from?

Deepika: Look, I let myself have pity parties every now and then. I just try to confine them to a set amount of time. But here’s the thing and why I included these in my book. I think a big part of my transformation was exactly what you said. It was committing myself to the continued development of myself and the continued honoring of my call, right? Whatever that inner nudge that inner knowing was, instead of quieting it down I let it come out and I let myself hear what was coming to me a year and a half ago. If you asked if I would be a speaker, I would have said, Why?

I wrote a book. Maybe I’ll write another one and maybe I will write another one, but the call to become a speaker sort of rose from within. And when it rose from within, I honored that and I let it come forward, and I do that now with all aspects of my life. But this is new for me.

I mean, my scheduled breakdown was five years ago. So it’s not old, but the transformations going on in my life have been rapid fire. Why? Because I’m saying yes to myself. I’m letting myself honor whatever is coming up for me and pursuing it. I’m done with saying it’s not practical, it doesn’t make sense.

I shouldn’t do it. Oh, I could use that money for something else. You know, my 401k or my IRA or this mysterious retirement home, that doesn’t exist. No. How about I just live this life now honoring the calls that come up for me now, and I hope everyone today takes a little bit of that for themselves, right?

You got the nudge, you got that little urge, you got that little something in you that made you sit back and take notice that this might be something you want to do and whatever that is for you, I say, go do it.

Maryalice: Yeah, go do it. I love how you put that. It arose from within and I honored it. I mean, somebody write that down please. Honor the calling, because when we suppress it, just like you said, they’re going to come out in a different way that we might not want and we might not expect. And allowing ourselves to hear what it is we want can bring so much more to the surface for us than we even expect it.

Deepika: I am living a life right now that is beyond the possibilities of the person five years ago who was sad, exhausted, tired, unloved, and probably depressed. That girl five years ago couldn’t have imagined this would be her world today. It is beyond what I thought possible for myself, and it all starts with one little step.

I took one little step in the direction of my dream and of dreams I didn’t even know I fully had or that were buried so deep under in the life that I was living. Like they were covered in mud, they were locked behind a giant door. I took those small tiny steps in my everyday life that started to unveil more and more and more, and when we reveal those things that we really have been pushing down and brushing away, they get to shine again. We get to see them again and allow them to come forward.

Maryalice: It’s amazing when you say yes to yourself and to your point, you make those small steps. It doesn’t have to be all the things. It’s one thing at a time. It’s amazing how it reveals itself. It’s almost effortless. In a way, right. It just kind of reveals itself.

So all of a sudden The Speaker Lab shows up. All of a sudden you’re speaking in this class. All of a sudden you’re speaking internationally. All of a sudden you’re getting a $10,000 gig to speak at a corporation. That’s because you just kept saying yes.

So talk to us now — what’s the new normal for our Deepika the speaker and author?

Deepika: Well, I am continuing to speak. I have spoken actually, this month will be my ninth speaking event of the year. Some have been paid, some have been unpaid. But I just sold to my first corporate client as well. So I’m super excited about that and I think it’s unveiling yet another path for me to move forward. I have launched various other parts of my business from corporate courses to one-on-one coaching and a lot more. And people are realizing their life’s biggest breakthroughs. They’re finding their transformation, all because I took what happened to me and tried to take all that “woo woo” spirituality and make it practical and tangible for us Type A personalities and give people a methodology and a process to follow. And it’s connecting so much with busy, hardworking professionals that just want to find another way. And I’ve just loved every minute of it.

Maryalice: Yeah, it’s really awesome. It’s so needed too, that practical way of just approaching life, saying yes to your dreams, to your gifts and talents and what you’re supposed to give back to this world.

So if someone’s listening and thinking, I really want to do it, but I don’t even know what I would speak about. What would I speak about ? What advice would you give to them?

Deepika: Just say yes. Take one step in that direction that you want to go in, you’re not going to regret it. You are absolutely going to realize something from it, and you may realize from it something that is a little different than you can even anticipate.

Maryalice: I also want to touch on the fact that you mentioned paid and not paid speaking gigs? And there’s something to be said about that because getting paid is amazing. We all want to get paid. I mean, money is great, but there is a time where capitalizing on the art of speaking – even if it means you’re not getting paid is just as powerful for your business in the long run as well. Especially when you have courses, consulting books and things of that nature. But also just to practice or compile marketing and media material for your speaking business. It’s really important.

Let me just say, we’re super proud of you. I know that you have really given your time, your money, your emotions, your vulnerability, and you came all in to this and we love students like that because we know we’re going to be able to help you during that first coaching call.

Deepika: And an added benefit is that you do meet this incredible group of other people talking and speaking on topics I hadn’t even considered. I think watching them flourish in their careers creates so much inspiration as well.

Maryalice: We are a large community of speakers. That is for sure. You want to hang out with speakers? Come hang out with us. That is for sure. Well, Deepika, we are celebrating you. We are so happy for you and it’s been such a pleasure coaching you, watching your business grow, and of course we’ll stay in touch.

Thanks so much for joining me on the Student Highlight episode today. I know you’re going to impact a lot of people, so thank you.

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