There is a stat thrown around all the time that the number one fear in life is the fear of public speaking followed only by death. Can one really overcome this fear? In this episode, Brian J. Olds, the President and CEO Black Speakers Network, reveals his transformation from someone who couldn’t lead two people in prayer to be being a passionate speaker who specializes in creating powerful learning experiences that lead to lasting change. Catch Brian’s tips on starting your presentation, unlocking the power of stories to drive your point, and the right use of visuals. The principles he teaches are valuable to many aspects of entrepreneurship and building relationships, so don’t miss this game changer episode.
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Overcoming Your Fear Of Public Speaking with Brian J. Olds
How many of you have ever wanted to be an effective speaker? How many of you want to increase your skills and your effectiveness as a communicator? I have Brian J. Olds in the studio with me. He inadvertently entered the world of speaking when he delivered his first speech to Morgan State University Toastmasters Club in 2006. Recalling this as one of his most defining life moments, Brian instantly connected to his passion when he found himself in front of a standing ovation at the conclusion of that speech. Brian specializes in empowering rising professional speakers to create clarity, streamline systems and cultivate the relationships needed to reach the unique audience they are called to serve. Brian J. Olds, I’m happy to have you on the show.
Thank you so much. I am very excited to be here and ready to rock and roll with you. I have been an admirer for a while and I have much respect for what you are doing here. All your readers, I hope you go back because this man is dropping wisdom. You do exactly what we were trying to do, which is build the community of people trying to get to the next level.
Let’s talk about your community, Black Speakers Network. We found out that you are the Founder and the Creator of Black Speakers Network. Tell us a little bit about that and how you got into being the Founder of Black Speakers Network.
The corner phrase from one of our co-authors, Quinn Conyers as I start with my verbal business card, our mission is to connect and inspire the next generation of black professional speakers, so I did. I am the founder of Black Speakers Network. We are a membership-based professional speaker development and training company with over 5,000 members and our mission is to connect and inspire the next generation of black professional speakers. We are here to be the go-to resources for individuals who are preparing to or have already started their professional speaking journey. You read a little bit about my bio and that story is somewhat accurate. If you have been sitting in a small classroom next to me in the summer of 2006, you would have watched as I stood up, walked to the front of the room and delivered my very first speech in Toastmasters. I know you have a lot of people reading, some may not be familiar with Toastmasters. Rodney, are you familiar with Toastmasters?
I am very familiar with Toastmasters.
For the uninitiated, Toastmasters is a public speaking organization that has literally thousands of clubs all around the world. That was our very first meeting on a college campus of Morgan State University and I was the very first speaker. A couple of things were visibly happening. If you were sitting in that classroom and you were close enough to me, you probably would have noticed a couple of things. You probably would have noticed my sweaty palms. You definitely would have heard my shaking voice. I paced so much, at one point I am pretty sure I almost walked out of the room doing a presentation. People are like, “Where are you going? Come back, the speech is in here.” That was what was happening on the outside. Do you know how they say when you get nervous, it feels like you have butterflies in your stomach?
I have experienced that several times.
The butterflies in the stomach, in my particular case, they were not just the casual, majestic butterflies that would see like in the zoo or on Discovery Channel. These were aggressive butterflies crashing into each other trying to escape. All this stuff is happening from my first presentation, but I eventually wrapped up the speech. I get back to go my seat and there was a standing ovation. I noticed a couple of things, everyone in the room was clapping and that made me feel good. Toastmasters is such an encouraging environment. Toastmasters is like a church. We clap for everything. If you bring your lunch to the meeting, you probably will get a standing ovation, but they made me feel good at that time. The next thing I realized is that I survived and thrived through my first presentation. I made it through. If I could deliver one, I could deliver two. It’s what I did, and then two turned to four, four turned into six. I delivered my first ten speeches in Toastmasters.
I went outside the club. I started hosting my own professional development and business development workshops. I entered Corporate America and eventually got promoted to professional development. I was dropping knowledge on people in front of the classroom on a weekly basis. I went back to school to study instructional design and all these experience that led me to this point. I started with the story of the sweaty palms and the shaking voice to let people know that speaking is absolutely not a gift. It is a skill and it is a skill that can be cultivated. I am an introvert. I love having time to myself. When I first started speaking, I could not lead two people on a silent prayer let alone move an audience to do anything. Now I am on this mission to help other speakers essentially, not just overcome the fear of speaking, because that is a good first step. I authentically believe that every person has a story whether they want to tell it or not, but if they choose to step and tell their story, they have an audience that they absolutely are called to serve.Speaking is not a gift. It is a skill that can be cultivated. Click To Tweet
What made you want to keep going with speaking? You don’t seem like the kind of guy that likes a lot of attention. You are introvert and so why keep putting yourself through all of the nervousness and that process of getting on stage, preparing a talk and delivering it in front of people? Why did you do that?
You hear the stat thrown around all the time that the number one fear in life is public speaking followed only by death. My response to that is that 87.3% of all statistics are made up on the spot, so you can’t trust whether or not that is true or not, but at the end of the day we know that for a lot of people, public speaking is a big challenge. Some people approach challenges in different ways and they respond to challenge in different ways. Some people climb Mt. Everest, some people face their fear of spiders. For me, that was the proverbial challenge in my life that I wanted to overcome because before I step on to that stage on Toastmasters, I have been called to test to do that.
I was part of a scholarship program at a two-year community college here Baltimore and the director, she is no longer alive, but her name was Ms. Crystaline Bouie. She was a lifelong educator and she had this catchphrase and she would always tell us that these are your dues-paying years. She was trying to get us in the right mindset. Now was the time to sacrifice and get good at your craft so that later you can reap the rewards. She wasn’t one of those people that would do everything and be at the microphone all the time. We ran our own programs. We were the ones introducing dignitaries, we were the ones at the microphone.
I recognized doing those periods that the sweaty palm, the shaking voice, every other word was ah, um, like, you know, so, but. There were these things that I did not feel good about myself speaking. I saw it as a challenge versus an obstacle and I did not want that to be a challenge in my entire life. I did not have any data on it, but I felt like the people in life that are most successful have to a certain degree overcome this fear. In fact, have leveraged it as a strength whether that would be corporate leaders, politicians, entrepreneurs, people that have risen to the top level of society. They are all called upon to deliver a message in some way and so I wanted to quickly overcome that and turn that into a strength for myself.
You mentioned that the leaders and social figures all have the ability to speak, to give powerful messages and communicate effectively. Not only is it a skill that those type of people need, but it is also something that we all need to have in our arsenal of skills in order to be effective human beings or whatever that we are doing. I get it; public speaking can be fearful, challenging, nerve-wracking, but it can be overcome. Those challenges can be overcome and as human beings we have to communicate with people, whether it will be on a stage, podcast, radio or in a meeting, whatever.
The better we are at speaking and communicating with people, the more effective we are. I advocate public speaking or communicating with everyone and anyone. I never thought that I would host a show or speak publicly. I did not want to do that. I just wanted to play football. I don’t want to talk to people; just let me perform. Now that I have gotten a taste of what this is like, I am still learning and I’m still developing myself as a speaker, it is something that I would advocate for everyone and not just leaders. Everyone is a leader on their own. I know this is probably different topic, but it is a skill that we all should have.
You mentioned telling a story. You want to empower people to tell their story. Based on what you share to me, is there anything else that is part of your story that you want to share with us? You talk about speaking for Toastmasters and how you progressed since then to become the founder of BSN. What is that thing that you like to share on stage? Because I am assuming there is something that you share on stage more than simply the founder of BSN, which is a great accomplishment, but what is your story?
I mentioned the community college I went to, Morgan State University. I had an opportunity to go back and speak to my high school and one of my messages I focused on encompasses my story. It is called The Miss of Success. Part of my journey is I grew up here in Baltimore. Baltimore has been the focal point in the news and so it has been interesting being a part of that conversation. I take a lot of pride in not just our city, but also my parents, my grandparents, in particular my mom and how I was raised. Remember how they use to televise the space shuttle launches from Cape Canaveral? I was captivated by that. I will look and seat in front of the TV and say, “I want to be a part of that.” Part of my story started on saying things like that and starting on this path to become a literally a rocket scientist, an aerospace engineer. That was my goal and that is what propelled me through school.
Sometimes in life you get little clues. They say success leaves clues and so does failure and so your trajectory in life sometimes you are getting resistance to do things and you can’t figure out why. It’s because you may not necessarily need do it that exact way. On my particular case as I was making the journey of becoming an engineer, there were certain things that will come up. For example, in middle school if I am in my room, when kids get quiet, they are normally are up to something. In my particular case, I get quiet. I was probably taking something apart whether it is a television, microwave or a radio. My first Nintendo, I literally took it apart. A great engineer would do that because a trait of any scientist is that you are intellectually curious, so you try to figure out how the things work and reverse engineer it.
My challenge is I would take it apart and never be able to put it back together. I get IKEA furniture and I am like, “Why do they send me all these pieces?” That was clue number one. Clue number two, when I got to college, they had a class called AutoCAD. They had a program where you would literally design different things. I am holding a water bottle. You have the top view. If I was designing a water bottle, there would be a top view and the side view and then a cross-sectional view. All three of my views will always look exactly the same, so that was clue number two that engineering probably was not in my wheelhouse. The final thing came when I made it to Morgan, I got accepted into the engineering program. I don’t know you’ve ever made it up to Calculus 2 or differential equations?
Calculus 1 was it for me and I vowed that I would never take a calculus class after that one, so you are on your own on that one. Go for it.Visuals are effective but they should not take the place of the message, story, or presentation that you’re delivering. Click To Tweet
That was a good place to stop because here is what happened. I am in Calculus 2, I thought I prepared for this test. 30 minutes went by and I am literally looking at the page and I don’t have any answers to the questions. I have no idea what is going on. Everybody else’s pencil is grinding away, so I look out the window. You just pray to God. That’s the only option for now. Pray to God and be like, “If you give me the answer to this test, I will be forever grateful.” The clouds parted and I look across the window and I literally see the answer to the test that is on the side of the building and the answer was Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management. I put the test down, went out of engineering, signed up for business and then the rest was history.
We put a lot of pressure on our kids in society at a young age. You think about seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, even twenty, 22 years old. We put a lot of pressure to figure out what it is that we want to do for the rest of our life, which is an outdated model. Especially now you have people that have all these amazing portfolios. The average employee tenure is 2.3 years. It was like, “There’s nothing you going to do for the rest of your life, but what are you interested in?” One of the misses of success I realized is just because you start on this one path doesn’t mean that you have to continue down that path if it no longer makes sense.
For me, I took the engineering transfer as a failure, but in actuality it was one of the best things that happened to me. Because me going into business school is what opened the door to Toastmasters which ended up opening the door to all the things that we are doing at Black Speakers Network. What I learned from that experience is when I was sitting in front of the television as a little kid looking at that space shuttle to go up, the thing that excited me was not the engineering part. That was the only thing I knew to get there, but what I wanted was to be a part of something big. I did the process of building, but you can build in a lot of different ways, and so I say, “I am not a builder of things, I am a builder of people.” I still get to engineer at a different capacity. That is a little bit of my story that ties into what we are now as well.
What do you focus on? With all of the talks that you conduct now, are they focused on becoming an empowered effective communicator? What is your niche?
It has dovetailed in a couple of different areas. I am still passionate about the core of effective presentation skills. One of my programs on the five C’s of crafting power presentations focuses on that. That is the program I have had for the longest that has been more successful. I facilitated that to college, universities, schools, external or internal within companies. That is something that has been consistent for me because I love when somebody has a message. I help them craft that message in the way that is going to truly resonate with the audience. The other thing is I am on a campaign to end their presentations. I don’t want another boring presentation, another PowerPoint, another presentation where people start off saying their name and thanking a thousand people before they get to their content.
I love presentations where people are on the edge of their seat, they’re excited about what the person is sharing. They’re tapping into their inner story and bringing themselves to that experience. I know not every presentation needs to lend themselves to that. If you are in academia or finance, they only care about specific things. For the vast majority, adults to kids, we love stories. We love being engaged to the extent that we can become masterful or at least competent and being able to effectively utilize that time when we are speaking because the most expensive thing we pay is attention.
If you have attention, i.e. a speaking engagement, you have the privilege of being able to pour in two people, 200 or 2,000 people. I want to see people show up and do that effectively. All the programs I have had about the three misses of success have been great, but I am in an inflection point in my own speaking career. The interesting thing that happened is that when I started BSN in 2016, I was very much focused on growing the business up even outside of my own speaking career, but it’s two separate things. I am excited because one of the misconceptions about speaking is that you get this niche, you figure out your target audience and you stay in that space. Most speakers are constantly reinventing themselves and I am excited to be going to that journey right now as well.
I want to take you back to a comment that you said about PowerPoint. You are not a fan of PowerPoint, so tell us a little bit about what we can do differently. If we are not going to use PowerPoint, I know a lot of people use PowerPoint not only to get the message across but it’s also to help them along in the presentation,so they won’t forget where they’re on, what content they need to deliver. What is your position on PowerPoint?
It’s not that I am not a fan of it. I love PowerPoint when it is used appropriately and there are a lot of people that can pontificate on what appropriate it is and what is it. I don’t get that scientific philosophical with it. What I know is that your audience can only pay attention to one thing at a time, so they can either be listening, paying attention, or watching you or what you are sharing on your slide. You will hear some people say never put text on the slides and I am like, “I don’t see a problem with text on a slide, should you be reading your PowerPoint presentation?” Probably not.
I was at Black Enterprise a couple of weeks ago and Andrew, he is the founder of BYOB, the Build Your Own Brand Conference, and he is going to be at this US Blockchain of Commerce event too. He started this presentation and it was in typeface. It was a black background and it just said, “Hi.” It was so disarming, so funny, so cool all at the same time. The genius of that is probably lost on most people, but that is an effective way to use PowerPoint. For me, you can get into the mechanics or whatever, but the basic principle is that the PowerPoint or whatever visual aid you are using should serve to enhance your presentation and not distract from it. Are visuals effective? Absolutely, but I don’t think the visual should take the place of your message, your story, and having a well-crafted presentation that you’re delivering.
You mentioned the five C’s within your program on giving a powerful presentation. Are you willing to share, maybe if not all five of them, maybe a couple of them for the audience?
Yes. We can jump to a couple of them, some of the ones that would probably be most helpful in this conversation. We talked about starting a presentation. One is creating compelling content. Often times we start our presentations in the wrong place. We start our presentations trying to think about how most new speakers will start the presentation and the question would be, “What do I want to tell my audience?” versus, “What does my audience need to hear?” One of the first things that we talked about is how to create content that is serving your audience and not just serving your own ego. A lot of times in professional speaking, you will have signature keynotes, your go-to message. You have your signature stories and things of that nature, but you want to do your due diligence.
I came up with a product. It’s the 35 questions that you would ask before and after your speaking engagement. It gets to the point of, the more you can know about your audience before you step on the stage the better. Because it gives you an opportunity to start to craft that message in a way that is not just relevant to your message, but it is starting to meet the needs of that particular audience in mind. Every audience is different, demographic, makeup, education, what mood do they have. I’m going to be like, “I want to know. Is this a mandatory meeting or people have to be there? Who else is speaking on that day? What topics are they currently covering? Is this is something that they talked about last year? Is it brand new?” There are literally 35 questions that we go through to ask how can I better craft this message to meet the specific needs of the audience that I am talking to? Have you ever flown on Southwest Airlines?
Why did you bring that up? I don’t like flying Southwest. Every time, there’s been a horrible experience. I apologize, but yes to answer your question.
I have nothing but great experience going with Southwest, but I do know people on both ends of the spectrum. The reason I am bringing it up is that in part of that presentation, I talk about one of my trips to Phoenix, Arizona. I waited to the last minute to print out my boarding pass. When that happens, Southwest put you in A, B, or C groups. That means if you wait to the last minute, you are going to be on a C group which means you are the last group of people to board the plane. Most people don’t know what C stands for. C stands for center seat because that is what the place you are going to end up if you wait that long. If you’re 6’2” like me, it also stands for cramped flight because that’s what you’re going to feel. I print out my boarding pass, getting ready to go to Phoenix, Arizona, I go all the way to the back of the plane in the center seat. The flight attendants are trying to get people settled and most people are on their phones, playing with the baby or getting the last text message out.Stories are powerful not only because they capture your attention, but they help you remember the point behind the story. Click To Tweet
To get the audience’s attention, they got on the intercom and said, “Ladies and gentleman, we’re on Southwest passenger flight number 2409 with non-stop service to Denver, Colorado. Won’t you go ahead and put your seatbacks and tray tables in your upright position and make sure your devices are powered down so we can push back from the gate.” She said Denver, Colorado, we are going to Phoenix, anybody knows we are supposed to go to Phoenix. They said Denver, so instantly everybody’s head pops up. I am in the back. I am looking around. People are panicking and trying to figure out what is going on. They’re on the wrong plane. They let a few seconds go by and she gets back on the intercom and go, “Ladies and gentleman, now that I have your full attention, why don’t you go ahead and put away those electronic devices?”
I was like, “That is a powerful message when it comes to speaking.” What they thought me is that when you deliver a presentation, you want to capture your audience’s attention in the very first sentence. Often times we waste the most important few moments of our presentation doing things that are not serving our audience. If you are wasting time talking about the weather or even giving thanks to the person that brought you there, there is time for that later. You have a small window, especially now in the Instagram generation, to capture people’s attention. That is another C that we spent a lot of time going into.
What are some ways that we can do that? Because a lot of people want to be more effective speakers and they feel that it sometimes can be a challenge straight out the gate to get their attention. What are some examples or maybe suggestions that you would give us to do that?
The most effective way that I found is to get into a story right away. It is not a term paper so you don’t have to come and say, “Let me tell you a story.” You just go right into it. For the presentation that I have that I mentioned earlier, it starts off with the first words out of my mouth. If I have a PowerPoint, I will show the picture of the classroom or something like it. I will say, “If you were sitting next to me in a small classroom in 2006, would you have watched as I stood up, walked to the front of the room and deliver my very first speech in Toastmasters?” That’s twelve seconds. Immediately, what did I do? I did not say hi. I did not ask people how they are doing. I immediately put them into a scene. Where is the scene? Morgan State University Summer of 2006. Where are you? Sitting next to me as I stand up and walk to the front of the room. I am instantly engaging your imagination and that is what the stories do.
Stories are powerful because not only are they capturing our attention, but if you remember the story, you remember the point behind the story. Craig Valentine has been my mentor for all of this, so he is the absolute master when it comes to storytelling. If you want to master that skill as well as a couple of others, when it comes to platform excellence, it is Craig. He came to Toastmasters, he was the 1999 world champion of public speaking. I learned these techniques from him. You want to get the people in a story right away. The other thing is you could start with a quote, you can start with a question. If you are speaking in front of a room of executives and you get up there and say, “Brian Old is here. I’m happy you are here today. We got some details to share with you.” By then people are already thinking, “What is this?” If you get up there and say, “In 2018, we lost 47% of our workforce under the age of 25,” then you have their attention. You ask a question like, “Why do you think we lost 47% of our workforce under the age of 25?” Its things you could do like that, but to me telling a story is the most effective way to initially bring people in.
I want to take you back to something you mentioned earlier about telling the story. You mentioned it very subtly. You said something about making a point after the story. It was a very subtle way that you mention it, but that is something I want to highlight because that is very important. You can’t just get on stage, tell a story, get their attention but then you leave them hanging because there is nothing that comes behind this. Educate us all on making that point after you tell a story.
Stories happen to us all day long. Something happened to me like I got my car towed. There are a lot of different things that happen to us and as speakers we should be creators of our stories and create stories for others. The story does not become useful until you can take away a message to that story. One of the worst things is sitting in an audience and listening to someone speak, and they’re going on and on and on. You’re like, “Does this have a point? Where are we going?” That is part of what Craig Valentine teaches to you. If we were to dissect the beginning of a presentation for example, the first thing would be getting the audience’s attention, in the very first sentence. Preferably within the first fifteen to 30 seconds, so that is what you are doing.
The second thing you want to give your audience within that first minute is a roadmap. You want to let them know where they are going. In my presentation of the five C’s, one of the things I say is that these tools and resources are all coming in the form of what I called the five C’s of crafting powerful presentations. People automatically know how many points I’m going to give. You could do that in a number of ways. You could say, “In the next half an hour, I am going to share with you three strategies to increase employee morale. I am going to share five tools to help you unlock your leadership potential.”
Whatever that is, people need to know not just the points to your story, but also the points that you are going to be hitting on a presentation. I don’t care how nice the car is, nobody is going to jump in a car and go somewhere with you if they don’t know where they are going. They’re like, “I don’t know what I am packing. I don’t know how long I will be in the car. Do I need to go to the bathroom first? What am I expecting?” That is an important thing for speakers to keep in mind. You have a story, but also make sure that your stories have a point. Also make sure that in your message itself, you are able to give the audience a roadmap to where you want to go.
I can see your passion for this. I know the audience does not have the ability to see you as you are talking, but I can assure you those that are reading, they’re like, “This man is very passionate about what he’s delivering.” Why does this mean so much to you?
It’s coming from being the kid who couldn’t lead two people in silent prayer. During the Olympics, I always enjoy watching those behind the scenes little montages that they put together about, “Brian Olds came from a small hometown.” Everybody got a humble beginning. Some people might have been swimming, some people play football, make music, everybody finds their thing. Once you find your thing, you can’t not do that thing and you probably can’t not share that thing with others. All these people have this dating advice and they’re like, “This app is better. You should do this. You should try that.” My dating advice is to go do stuff that you care about and that you are passionate about. You’re probably going to meet somebody else that you like doing that. At a minimum when you’re talking to somebody else about that thing, their eyes light up and they’re like, “We have something here.”
The same is true in life. I have seen the transformation from speaking personally and professionally. I also have witnessed so many people that have radically transformed the economic landscape of their life by having the courage and the discipline to apply some of the principles that we were talking about to their own life. It’s a beautiful thing where somebody asked me at a drop of a dime back when I was in corporate. I left an eleven-year corporate career, so I have been full-time in BSN. Even when I was doing that, the president of the company could walk up to me and say, “Kick off this meeting, for the all-hands meeting.” I can do it. I don’t know what he wants me to say, but give me a couple of talking points and I can make it happen. Maybe it’s a television interview, even a speeding ticket.
You are the first person that I have heard used their speaking skills to help them with their speeding ticket. That is awesome. To admit that publicly, “I am going to drop these key points on you right now officer.”
The better advice will probably be not to speed. My point is certain skills cascade to every area of their life. That has been the case from me and so that is part of the reason why I was so passionate about it.
This is an important skill to learn whether or not you are aspiring to be a professional speaker or leader of an organization, but having the ability to communicate effectively could only benefit you and help you as an individual in whatever field that you are in. You can use it to further your career as a speaker or whatever you are doing. It’s going to be something that enhances whatever decision that you make to better yourself. You are an author as well. We have not had the chance to talk about this, but I want to talk about your book. You are an author of the book Speak Up. Am I correct about that? Tell us about the books that you got.
The full title is Speak Up: The Ultimate Guide To Dominate in the Speaking Industry. I’m very proud of it. It was our first book produced by Black Speakers Network where 32 co-authors and I collaborated on a project. Les Brown is probably one of the most well-known decorated and influential professional speakers of our time. We had the pleasure of having him write the afterword. Dr. George Fraser is an incredible individual who has spent the better part of the previous decades being a champion of black entrepreneurship and creating your own economy. He did the foreword. We debut at #1 Amazon bestseller in two categories in business and the book. There are a lot of reasons to write a book and I am definitely proud of it.
When you run a network like BSN, the two question that everybody has is, “How do I get started as a speaker and how do I make money?” That is what it boils down to. For us, this book while not exhaustive, it serves as the answer to that question, “How do I get started as a speaker?” It’s thinking about the mindset and it will also provide the blueprint. We call it the five M’s of navigating your speaking business or building your speaking business. It introduces that model. We did not do a call for authors and took the highest bidder or anything like that. I already knew the people that we wanted to have in it because it was very important to me that we were talking to the best of the best in each of these categories.
Our motto is helping speakers get clarity on their mission, message, marketing, how to monetize and then the management of their speaking business. In each of these chapters, we’re breaking down specific topics and to each of those headers. It is important because to my knowledge, there is no college degree around starting a professional speaking business. There is no barrier of entry so to speak. Everybody comes in at a different place, and so we want to give people a place where they can self-identify where they are. You begin building toward on the things necessary to have a healthy and throbbing professional speaking business. That is why came up Speak Up.
How can people get ahold of this book or get a hold of you if they want to learn more about you?Don’t let perfection stand in the way of progress. Click To Tweet
They could go to BlackSpeakersNetwork.com. We’re at Black Speakers Network everywhere like on Facebook. Definitely follow us on Instagram. We are always sharing these valuable nuggets. We do have a Facebook group as well that is open to the public. We have a membership program that is a little bit more exclusive so you can learn more about that as well. Go onto our website. The main thing is BlackSpeakersNetwork.com and you can get a copy of the book there. If you want to learn specifically about the book, you can go to SpeakUpTheBook.com, but it is also available on Amazon. I would love to drop a signed copy in the mail to anybody that wants to get one if you order it through our website.
Thanks, Brian. I have done a little bit more research on you and I found that you have a passion for diversity. I have to ask this question because you are the founder of Black Speakers Network, but I am assuming that it is not just targeting inspiring African-American speakers, but this is a program that is open to everyone.
Depending on the avenue, I get into a lot of fine conversations around why it needs to be Black Speakers Network or why we even chose to do that or why I chose to do that. The basic answer is we are open to everybody. To me, it is no different than HBCU or the National Society of Black Engineers. Fun fact, I am a lifetime member of the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers. As you heard from my story from earlier, I am not an engineer and I am not Hispanic. These organizations that are created to equip and connect and also serve under-represented communities across multiple dimensions’ diversity still have a lot of relevance and importance in the landscape that we operate within the US.
It was very important to me. When I decided to start BSN and I looked around the speaking landscape of some organization, I was like, “Wow.” I know that when it came to speakers that look like me, it was more than Eric Thomas, Lisa Nichols, Les Brown, Dr. Fraser. It had been more of us holding it down. In fact, it is. We just did not have an organization that serves to galvanize and not just connect the current speakers. It was important to me to have an organization that actively works to cultivate the pipeline or as we say the next generation of black professional speakers. That is not based on age because you can be the next generation at any age. It’s just based on, “What are we doing to reach those people that did not even have speaking on their radar? They did not even know that you could do that?” Now that they know that you could do it, it’s accessible enough to be able to provide resources to connect them where they are. That is the reason why we went with black and staying firmly on that, but yes, it is open to everybody. We are in 35 countries and everybody is welcome. In fact, everybody is invited to be a part of what we’re doing.
I want to thank you for what you are doing. It is something that is needed and you guys are making the difference and causing a positive impact in the lives of the next generation of speakers. You are a certified game changer in my book and I appreciate what you are doing. Thank you for coming on this show. Continue to educate. You are onto something. Continue lead. I’m very thankful for your community. Thank you for being a part of your community and you’ve done wonderful things so we appreciate you.
I appreciate you likewise.
As we depart, I want to ask you one final question. Maybe the game changed your mentality message that you will leave with us before we depart.
It’s very easy for me. Another one of my presentations is, “Don’t let perfection stand in the way of progress.” I’ll give a brief explanation. As passionate as I am about speaking, I am just as passionate about seeing people advance their ideas. Not only it had to be business, but don’t let things stand in your way. For the Black Speakers Network, we’re very excited about what we were doing, but there is nothing here perfect. We don’t have a perfect website, a perfect delivery system or a perfect Instagram page. We got this book done in thirteen weeks and it is very close to perfect. It’s an amazing job, it is beautiful, it’s edited, it’s well-written, but it is not perfect.
We have still made thousands of dollars on these products. We’re due six figures easily, BSN. You don’t have to be perfect in order to make progress, but you do have to start somewhere. That would be my number one thing. Whether you are a speaker or an entrepreneur, I don’t care if you want to go make cupcakes. I had the chance to go speak to a young entrepreneur workshop. One kid said he wants to start a railroad. Most people would laugh and then be like, “There are no new railroad companies.” You have to encourage them like, “Whatever you do, you could end up doing whatever, so start somewhere.”
That is a game-changer mentality because it was for me. The number one book I recommend if you need help with that from a business perspective is called The Lean Startup because you absolutely learn how to get out your own way. It’s about creating something. You don’t have to have the perfect thing. Create just the minimum thing that your audience or your customers are looking for and serve at that level until you can get into the next level, but don’t stand on your own way.
Brian, thank you again for coming on this show. This has been an amazing, wonderful conversation. Again, you have my support. Anything you need brother, anywhere we can help you here at the Game Changer Mentality headquarters, please let us know. We are here for you. Thank you.
I appreciate it. As we always say, speak up. Your audience is awake.
Thanks. There you have it, another successful show. Don’t let perfection prevent progress. Sit with that for a little bit. See you next time. Peace and love.
- Brian J. Olds
- Black Speakers Network
- Craig Valentine
- Speak Up: The Ultimate Guide to Dominate In The Speaking Industry – Amazon
- Facebook – Black Speakers Network
- Instagram – Black Speakers Network
- Facebook group – Black Speakers Network Public Group
- The Lean Startup
- https://rodneyflowers.com/get-up-book/ – Get Up! I Can’t. I Will. I Did… Here’s How!
- https://rodneyflowers.com/essential-assertions-book/ – Essential Assertions
- https://rodneyflowers.us9.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=01f76a038256f77a6fbc93590&id=307d726734 – Rodney’s Daily Inspiration
About Brian J. Olds
Brian J. Olds wasn’t born with a natural enthusiasm for public speaking.
A burgeoning change agent in the industry, the Baltimore native inadvertently entered into the world of speaking when he delivered his first speech to the Morgan State University Toastmasters Club in 2006. Recalling this as one of his most defining life moments, Brian instantly connected to his passion when he found himself in front of a standing ovation at the conclusion of that speech.
Identified as a “curator of collaboration”, Brian specializes in empowering rising professional speakers to create clarity, streamline systems and cultivate the relationships needed to reach the unique audience they are called to serve. His passion for speaking, diversity and building relationships led him to create Black Speakers Network (BSN), a membership-based professional speaker development and empowerment association. With thousands of members around the world, BSN holds the distinction of being the most accessible and fastest growing development organization, dedicated to serving underrepresented speakers at all levels in their career.
Recognized as one of the brightest talents with a unique mix of corporate, academic and leadership, Old’s influence and prowess has warranted favorable opportunities to showcase his talent and spread awareness, beyond BSN. In 2015, he competed in the Toastmasters International Speech Contest, a competition with over 30,000 participants who compete for a chance to take part in the World Championship of Public Speaking®. Brian proudly advanced to the semi-finals, competing against the top 100 speakers around the world.
With a deep appreciation for the artistry of speaking at the helm of his career, Brian J Olds is defining success on his own terms. His impact is illustrated perfectly in industry mate Zig Ziglar’s quote, “It’s not where you start – it’s where you finish that counts.”
Are you ready to shed your past, rise above your present, and go confidently in the direction of your dreams? The first step? Decide. Choose right here and now to make a move. Set your intention. Then simply ask Rodney for help. https://rodneyflowers.com/mentoring/
Want an inspirational story and a magnetic personality plus interactive actionable strategies to transform your audience? Book Rodney for your next event. https://rodneyflowers.com/speaking/
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