Maryalice: Hey everyone I’m Maryalice Goldsmith, Director of Student Success at The Speaker Lab and I am super excited to be talking with one of our amazing coaches, Nanette Hitchcock. During this episode of our Coaches Corner series we’re going to be talking about discovering the key to a successful business. And if there’s anyone to have this conversation with, it’s Nanette. So glad to be with you!
Nanette: I love to be on these calls where we have these conversations, so thank you for having me.
Maryalice: I know you’re super busy coaching our wonderful students and it’s good for you and I to be in this different atmosphere and just talk shop. I love talking about this stuff with you and I know you and I have very similar views and perspectives on this, so let’s dive in, protect people’s time, and get right into the meat of it all.
There are so many things that we think about when we’re coaching because every student is so different. But at the same time as coaches, we do have to kind of go with our skeletal format of how we best lay things out for our students so they can discover what’s great for them.
What You Need to Do First
So as a coach, what’s the first thing you try to try to establish with your speakers when it comes to them building their business?
Nanette: So it’s a foundational concept that we all believe in. This is what a lot of the success is built on for the business and that solid foundation needs to be built on a very strong “why” and your “why” produces. It’s kind of a twofold benefit for the speaking business. One, it produces this strong motivation within ourselves where we’re inspired to solve the right problem, where we’re inspired to look for the gaps that are out there. And then we decide to step into those and make a profound difference or an impact.
So it has that benefit internally to motivate us. But it also has this external, really profound effect when we have a strong “why” in our business. People pick up on the authenticity of our message because we’ve started with really researching and understanding why this is important, why this is a problem that we want to solve.
Maryalice: As you were talking, what I was thinking about is, when we as speakers, entrepreneurs, product developers, it doesn’t matter — when you are so clear with why you are doing it, you are lit up with passion, right?
Nanette: You have that fire underneath you, absolutely. And so getting people to invest in that is so much easier because they see it in you, they believe it in you and they want some of it too. And so it’s this trickle down effect that you’re, you’re standing in your “why” shoes and the confidence goes up, the energy goes up the whole vibe of the product or the experience or the talk goes up.
It’s foundational [the “why”] to everything else that we’re building at this point. It really is a ripple effect to everything else in the business. And when people come to me and they don’t have clarity in that, it’s really important that we start with it. And I see them light up when they say I’m not sure what my message really needs to be. Starting with discovering the problem they’re solving and then tapping into their “why” and what’s so purposeful about that is that it takes them on a path they wouldn’t be on otherwise.
Maryalice: It’s so true. I’m curious, I know you and I have talked about this before, but for people listening, this is the Coaches Corner series. You might be wondering, how does one get coached on discovering their “why?” So what are some of the things that you do to help our students really dig deep and pull out this “why” and actually put words and emotions to it — because that’s the other powerful piece of defining your “why,” it moves you emotionally and it gets you fired up. But how as a coach do you help people do that?
Nanette: That is such a great question, and we want people to understand that as a coach, we are here to walk alongside them to help them take those two steps forward and that we’re totally invested in helping them to define this business, define their message and grow this business.
So when we’re starting at this point with them, which was your question of how do we pull “why,” I ask a couple of questions. At the beginning of the conversations, I’m asking questions to understand their backdrop —- where have they already put a lot of time, effort and energy in their lives? What’s meaningful to them in this? What brought them to the place where they wanted to have this kind of impact and this kind of message. And then we start to sort through some of the messages that they’ve been thinking about, and I begin to ask them questions and as they answer those I ask, “Why is that important?” And they began to define that. And I ask again, why is that important?
A lot of times we go deep into that, so they’re clear on why this is important. I also ask the question, “In your observations, why is this a problem? Why is this the problem that you want to define?” “Where are the gaps that you’ve noted as you’ve been working and observing and talking with people as you’ve been researching?” They begin to get this picture and we begin to put the pieces together as to why this is what’s really important.
They define their strong “why” and what the message is moving forward, and what the main idea is going to be. We establish some vision, the outcomes, the transformation they want to make and it’s just really rewarding to see those light bulbs come on.
Maryalice: It’s really the difference between building a speaking business because you like to get on stage vs. building a speaking business because you know who you are, the people you’re speaking to and the impact that you want to make — and why you want to make it.
The “why” helps you put this compass on your business and it helps direct and navigate the ship of your business in such a consistent way. I truly believe with a very defined “why” you say “no” to all the right things that you should be saying no to, and you say “yes” to only the things that make sense and feed the “why.” It’s that inspiration that helps you get outta bed and back at it the next day.
Nanette: Yes, and I would just add to that by saying, when you lose your “why” you lose a big piece of what drives you. And I see it out there in a number of ways when I’m working with people and that they have to have clarity in what drives them, what fuels them. They’ve got to be inspired by this message and feel that it’s something they really want to move the needle on, make an impact in, and if they don’t have a strong sense of that and are purposeful in that, then how can people really be transformed by what they offer?
Your audience will see right through that, and so it’s part of what makes you more purposeful and driven. And as you just said, in those moments, the reality is you’re going to get 20 “no’s” [when prospecting]. The speaking business is like any other business — it takes hard work and you’ve gotta have some sustainable things. It starts with this drive within you, how you’re fueling that, and being inspired, and then what people are coming alongside of you to help you get there.
Maryalice: So as a coach, sometimes you’re working with a student and they’re really struggling to get to that deeper, “why.” What are some of the ramifications for people who are listening and thinking I just wanna be a speaker, why do I need more than that? What are the ramifications for the owner of a speaking business who really doesn’t have a defined “why?”
Nanette: That’s a great question because I really think it ties into what we’re gonna be talking about in the second part of this [Stay tuned for Episode 407!], and that’s the vision and the destination that we’re taking people. This is the second part of when we define the right problem, when we’re in that lane and we have a deep sense of why we’re doing what we’re doing, it allows us to begin defining the outcomes, benefits, and transformation for our audience.
When we are clear on the vision of where we’re going and we begin to put those pieces together, the why drives that excellence. It allows us to begin to reach for the problem we’re solving, why we’re driven to do this and stay in this lane, and then the second part is to talk about the vision and how it always helps us to see the problem and the outcome.
With regards to the outcomes, this is the final destination we want to take our audience. This is the transformation we want to bring about. When conversing with a decision maker at a corporation [who is deciding what speaker to hire] you’ve got to communicate the benefits, show them the outcomes, and the destination of where you’re taking the audience.
So with all of this, there is a starting point, but as you said earlier, it’s this ripple effect. And when we’re clear on why we’re doing what we’re doing, and the problem we’re solving, then we begin to solve the outcome. The transformation becomes a firmer bridge between what they know and what they’re gonna do about it. We start driving toward this because it makes a difference in our business and if we have this vision that we’re always driving toward, then our content, the priorities of our business model, and where we spend our time aligns to getting people there.
Finances, Emotions, and Service
Maryalice: I’ve shared this on the podcast before, so forgive me, but it’s powerful because when we’re defining our “why” I think there are a couple of different ways that you can do it.
The question is, why is that important? Why does that matter? Why, why, why, why, why? But then there’s also the question of, what’s going to get you out of bed to keep doing this? So when you’re locked into your “why,” you’re inspired, you see the impact you’re going to make, and now you know it’s a non-negotiable that you need to get on stage because you see why you’re called to this.
And I always like to define it in three ways, the financial, the emotional, and the service based. So financially building a business takes money and of course you want to make money, but why do you wanna make money? So financially, why is building this speaking business so important to you? Your loved ones, your lifestyle. Get that really defined, get really clear.
I don’t care what the number is, but why do you want to make it? And by what year — and I would keep that to five years or less. Try not to go too far out, but really define those financials. The other thing is emotional. And when you think about your husband or you think about your wife or you think about your children, and you think about coming home and saying, “I just booked my 10th gig and I hit my financial goal and we’re going to buy that beach house or whatever…” When you visualize the impact that it makes to the people that you love, that is really inspiring.
And then finally the service aspect of the business. When you get on stage and you make that impact, you’re doing a service to somebody else’s life. You’re giving them an opportunity. And then on top of that, what kind of charitable contributions mean something to you and that you can contribute to with this money?
So I love thinking of my “why,” and I love teaching this to our students in those three ways, because the “why” of your speaking is critical, but then what’s the impact in terms of finances, emotional relationships and your service.
Nanette: Yes. I love that. As a coach, we understand that there are a lot of things that matter to individuals and your work is one of those things. And so at The Speaker Lab we’re helping with that vocational impact, the purposeful tools that are going to support a speaking business, and the coaching to help drive all of these things forward.
Students come into this and there is a lot that motivates an individual. There’s a lot that drives them toward their goals. And each one that comes to The Speaker Lab, what matters to them and what is driving them — we need to listen to that as coaches and help them define some of those other domains of life, because they [students] care about these other domains in life.
As coaches when we step out of this foundational piece and move forward with students to help them put the pieces together. We’re also hearing and seeing the ones that are really driven, the ones that are moving forward, the ones who are really taking steps are the ones that are most intentional. They define these other areas of life and they’ve set goals for them to get to those places. They’re intentional about those action steps. Those are the students that are really successful with the business.
Maryalice: I love the word intentional and I think this is a direct symptom of defining your “why.” You become more intentional as a business owner, a speaker, a husband, a wife, a mother, a father, a brother or sister…whatever your role is. You become more intentional because your why is just so clear and it’s in front of you.
And I really encourage people when you have your “why” to write it out every morning. The more you say it out loud, the more you believe it. When you define the “why” there’s this respect that you need to have about it, because it’s your business, it’s your impact, and it also can make a huge impact on your life.
Nanette: We want our work to be purposeful and so at The Speaker Lab we’re all on mission in the same way, helping these students to have clarity and confidence and a roadmap forward. And every single one of us can state what we’re on mission to do together, because we understand that when they make this investment in their work and the purpose of it and the impact they want to make, we’re privileged to come alongside them and help them to figure that out.
And so all of us at The Speaker Lab are working to be on mission to help people in that way, help our students to get to the point where they can get out there and make the kind of impact they want to.
Maryalice: Honestly, not to toot our own horns, but we’re a great example of really honoring your “why” because we know our why, and we live by that. And when you stay real clear on that, it helps everyone on the whole team invest in it. I think that’s really important as an example to our speakers that we’re coaching and training and helping them build this business. We live by the “why” and they feel it because they know that they have our support above and beyond.
And as we’re all coaching, there is this congruence in our messaging and the way that we guide our students, not only to their “why”, but to their talk and to their marketing assets and all of those things.
So let me ask you this. What are some of the ways you suggest or encourage our students to keep their “why” in front of them?
Nanette: I would say that after over a decade of being an executive leadership coach and working with driven individuals in their own quest for coaching and purpose and through The Speaker Lab, I’m constantly looking at my own “why” and making sure that as the landscape shifts, I’m still clear that I am meeting the right need. And I think that kind of measuring is important for our speakers too. So, and it will also keep them very connected to their “why”, if they’re constantly researching the gaps out there, the problems in what they’re talking about.
When I’m talking about being on mission with our speakers and if I was to define another mission statement of mine, which is to equip leaders and move toward thriving environment, I’ve got to look at what the challenges are, where things are at and where they’re not feeling equipped – what’s keeping those thriving environments from happening?
And that’s just an example. But with our students, I think they’re going to stay connected to the right problem and they’re going be more impactful in their businesses if they realize that they’ve also got to stay in touch with the changing landscape of what’s going on in the workplaces, the challenges out there and where they continue to research and read and have their own growth and talk to people.
I often say, just get out there and it won’t be perfect, but you’ve got a great starting point with the tools we’re helping you build. Get out there and start speaking it. Those conversations and speaking your message, doing those talks, you’re going to see what resonates with the people in front of you. You’re going to see and get feedback and they’re going to say, “That helped me so much. That was just so powerful.” So there’s certain things that are just going to resonate and that will continue to fuel you and help you define with clarity as you move forward while keeping in front of you the realization that you are solving this problem.
Maryalice: You’ve mentioned a couple times that we’re going to do part two, which is more about the vision and strategy. And one thing that we recommend here at The Speaker Lab is every 90 days to review that, like a check and balance type of thing, some reflection and projection.
So [the goal is to reflect on how you did in the past 90 days and, and project where you’re going in the next 90 days? And in that process just really sit with your “why,” because, I don’t wanna throw everybody for a loop, but your why can actually change — it can evolve as you evolve as a business owner and a speaker. And guess what? That’s okay. You don’t have to box yourself in. That’s why you’re an entrepreneur.
Be flexible with yourself and allow yourself to evolve. But starting with a specific “why” today will actually help you evolve faster, and allow your business to grow faster.
Nanette: There’s such value in sitting in front of a coach and really discussing the depth of where this could go. And you might just find that there’s a perspective you had not considered or it deepens the clause into something that can be even more profound. And so we look forward to doing that with you.