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Creating a Signature Talk with Carol Cox

August 29, 2022
The Recognized Authority Podcast Cover

The podcast that helps experts & consultants on the journey to becoming a recognized authority in your field, so you can increase your impact, command premium fees, work less hours, and never have to suffer a bad-fit client again!.

If you’re like most consultants & experts, you can spend significant amounts of time creating new presentations, editing slides and documents. Yet often your hard work goes to waste when you decide not to use them. There is a better way.

In this episode, Carol Cox and Alastair McDermott discuss why you should create a signature talk, a simple framework to use for a signature talk, and how to repurpose your talk for different speaking engagements.

They also discuss why sharing your personal story, vulnerabilities and imperfections is important, and how to avoid the expert trap to go from expert to thought leader.

Show Notes

Guest Bio

Carol Cox is the founder and CEO of Speaking Your Brand®, a coaching and training company that helps high-performing, purpose-driven women entrepreneurs create their signature talks and thought leadership platforms. Carol is host of the Speaking Your Brand® podcast and during election seasons serves as a political analyst on TV news.


alastair, audience, people, talk, thought, clients, expert, podcast, signature, episodes, women, leadership, authority, book, share, business, speaking, act, problem, vulnerability

Carol Cox, Voiceover, Alastair McDermott


Carol Cox  00:00

As a speaker you have built in authority and credibility because you were selected to be there. And that is one of the best things that you can do for for brand awareness for lead generation for attracting clients to you and for getting other speaking opportunities.


Voiceover  00:13

Welcome to The Recognized Authority, a podcast that helps specialized consultants and domain experts on your journey to become known as an authority in your field. So you can increase your reach, have more impact, and work with great clients. Here’s your host, Alastair McDermott.


Alastair McDermott  00:30

Hey, folks, it’s August, as the summer winds down, and we’re getting ready for September, I’m getting ready for a new intake into Authority Labs. That’s a coaching group and tight knit community for independent consultants and experts who are looking for coaching, accountability and peer support on your journey to authority. The next Authority Labs cohort will be starting in September. And if you’re a consultant or expert, and you’d like to build your authority and grow your income, have accountability and support around you while you do that, then this might be the right group for you. You can sign up for the interest list at Now on with the show.  So I’m delighted to tell you that today, my guest is Carl Cox. And Carol is the founder and CEO of Speaking Your Brand, which is a coaching and training company that helps high performance purpose driven women entrepreneurs to create their signature talks and thought leadership programs. And I’m really interested in talking to you about this already, because I’ve been thinking about that word signature a lot. Carol is the host of Speaking Your Brand podcast, and during election season serves as a political analyst. Okay, I’ll help you on TV. Nice. Wow, that’s


Carol Cox  01:38

I need a lot of help. Since 2016, tell me.


Alastair McDermott  01:42

Yeah, wow, that’s really fascinating. And because in the pre show, like we were just talking, we’re both geeks. We’re both software developers in our in our backstory. So it’s really, really fascinating where you’ve gone with this, and I’m really, really interested in that. So okay, I’m gonna ask you about what you call the expert trap. First, what is the expert trap?


Carol Cox  02:02

Sure, Alastair? Well, thank you so much for having me on your podcast, I had been working with women entrepreneurs and professionals now in Speaking Your Brand since 2015. And as you mentioned, my prior career entrepreneurship was in software development in the tech company that I ran. And you know, being an expert is what we need to be in our careers and in our businesses, clients come to us because of our expertise, our skill set, because we help them to accomplish certain things. But this is what I find that happens a lot. And because I primarily work with women, that’s what I tend to focus on is that we get in within the expert trap, because we get to the point where we’re so afraid of sharing opinions, of talking about things that maybe are on the outskirts of what we have degrees in or credentials in or experience. And when that happens is that we don’t put ourselves out there for media opportunities. We don’t put ourselves out there for speaking opportunities. We don’t put ourselves out there for podcast interview opportunities, because we feel like we are not either expert enough to talk about it. And then we also feel like, who am I to share an opinion about this particular thing. So let me give you two examples.  The first example is that I, as you mentioned, had been a political analyst on TV news since 2005. So I’ve been doing it for a very long time. And the reason I got started on that because I was chairperson of my Democratic Party in Florida, where I live. And so the media called me and said, you’ll come on the news. And let’s talk politics. Now, I didn’t have credentials in a sense in that, but I had to go on TV and learn to share my opinion and to talk confidently and with clarity about the questions that they asked. And so I would encourage more and more people, especially women to be willing to do that, because we need more representation in the media and on stages. The second thing, an example I’ll give you is that on Twitter, back a few months ago, there was a male reporter, actually from the UK. And he was limiting that he wants to include women in the articles that he writes. And he happens to be cover covers health and science. So COVID related articles, he contacts women who are experts. And they say to him, I don’t have anything to add to your article, or I don’t feel like I’m expert enough to be quoted in your article. And he’s like, I want women to quote, I want women to feature but women need to be willing to do that. And that’s why I call it the expert trap. Because we get so comfortable just in our little kind of our little bubble, our little corner that we’re afraid to put ourselves out there.


Alastair McDermott  04:30

Really interesting. And so you mentioned about commenting on stuff on the outskirts of our knowledge. So, I mean, one thing that that I think about is that experts should be experts in in what they talk about. Why why would we want to talk about stuff that’s on the outskirts? Like is that like, is it still within the box that we should cover? Or is it actually outside of that box is what I’m wondering.


Carol Cox  04:57

Yeah, so it needs to be, I believe, somewhat broad related to your area of expertise and what you do in your business, otherwise, it would kind of be confusing to your audience and probably not serve you your career or your brand and your business. So for example, I could probably I’m vegan, I’ve been vegan for over 10 years, I could go and talk about that, like I know a lot about it, but doesn’t really serve me and my personal brand and my business to talk about it. But what I do like to talk about is women in the public sphere, women in media, women’s voices and women’s presence, again, because and it’s not that I don’t have a particular say, credentials and thought leadership, I don’t have a degree from college, and what it takes to be a thought leader, but I’m willing to talk about what I see is this gap, where if you do a Google search of famous thought leaders, what comes back is all guys like Tony Robbins, and Dan Pink and Adam Grant, and they’re great. Like, they have important things to say they write books, I read their books, but when you see that women are not well represented in these spaces, then I start to question well, why not? Where is this gap? And what can I do about it? And that’s where it’s like, that’s what I mean, by the outskirts of your expertise, I could just talk about and just share the tips for public speaking. But number one, I think that’s gonna get a little boring for me. But number two, it doesn’t advance where I want to see things improve.


Alastair McDermott  06:19

Yeah, absolutely. And I think somebody has taken that challenge, because I just did that Google search. And there are some women showing up now. So somebody good, somebody has written an article, I think I just killed killed that soundbite for you for future use. But actually, that somebody has written an article to include those. Like, I think that’s important. And I try and do a very small bit in, in my part by trying to keep the, the gender balance somewhat 5050 On this show, and sometimes that’s hard. But I do try and do that. And, like I know, sometimes it is, it is a little bit harder to get to get women on as guests than it is for men. And maybe like maybe it’s just the you know, the the male overconfidence versus women overconfidence, that just seems to be a natural thing, you know. So that’s like, that’s out there trying to fight against that. So I don’t mean innate, but rather trained so. And that definitely, that’s what you’re trying to fight against.  So, yeah, so I guess, like, the context that you’re talking about here is you’re talking about the context of media opportunities in particular, and so that when media and PR opportunities come up, that an expert can say, you know, what, that’s that’s close enough to my area of expertise, that I can have an opinion. And, and that would also be useful for me to come on and talk about that. Because there’s no point, you know, there’s no point in coming on and talking about dog racing, you know, if that’s not your specific area of opportunity, right. So, yeah, okay, so I think we’re on the same page with that, then.  Yeah, so I’m, I’m interested in that, because I think like the curse of knowledge, as experts, we tend to downplay our own knowledge. There is a thing, you know, there’s the Dunning Kruger effect, and there’s all sorts of different things that play into that. So okay, let’s, let’s talk about, you know, what you can actually do to counter that, like, like, is just knowing about it enough? Or is there something else that you can do? Like, how can you like get confidence, stupid as the Simpsons, The Simpsons episodes as


Carol Cox  08:22

Well, for sure, awareness is the first step because there’s so many times we don’t realize that we don’t realize why we’re declining opportunities are saying, No, we’re not putting ourselves out there for opportunities, we don’t really realize why, why we’re doing that. So I think that, you know, awareness, for sure is the first thing but then beyond that is, if this isn’t met you want to work on for yourself is maybe start finding those podcasts to pitch that you want to be on especially if you haven’t pitched to be a guest on podcast before or find podcasts that maybe seem a little bit of a stretch for you. Maybe it’s a you know, one that you would like to be on short building the relationship with that host look for speaking engagement opportunities that where you would like to be a speaker, I can’t tell you how many times I hear from clients who will mostly in the pre pandemic days, when we went to in person conferences, this will start happening again. But back then they tell me that they would be sitting at a conference in the audience, and a speaker would be up there to speak, it would be fine. But they would say to themselves, why am I not up there? I could be giving this presentation. And I would probably do a better job and good for them for thinking that they could do a better job. But they’re not up there. And why not? Because they didn’t see themselves as the type of person who would be sent me on the stage presenting in front of a group or on TV talking about a media segment. So number one is the awareness that this that this expert trap exists number two is thinking okay, so where are those places that I want to show up? And how can I start putting myself out there to get to those opportunities?


Alastair McDermott  09:48

Yeah, absolutely. And you can also start small, you can start reaching out to some of the smaller podcasts. Somebody who’s just started a podcast and has only five or six episodes, they probably won’t have a huge listenership. already, they probably haven’t got a backlog of episodes already recorded. So you can reach out to them. And, and I think that’s a good way to start is look for people who are just starting out. And what you can do is you can go from that from one podcast to the next podcast to a bigger podcast. That’s one way to go. And I’m talking about podcasts because I’m a podcaster. And so that’s what I think about, but I’m sure the same applies to other types of media as well. Yeah. Okay. So some of the other things that you mentioned, I’m interested in the the signature talk can can you talk a little bit about that, because when when I’m talking, I was talking to a group group coaching program was talking to my group today, I think of content in three forms. So short form, like LinkedIn posts and things like that, or Instagram posts, longer form, which might be like a podcast interview or a YouTube video, like a nice the other one. And then I think of signature content, as like somebody’s book or something like that. Or maybe it’s like an elearning, like a signature course. So can you talk to me about how you think about signature talks and what that means for you and why it’s important?


Carol Cox  11:02

Sure, Alastair, and we are definitely on kind of the same wavelength there. So a signature talk is more robust, it has more depth to it than say, a LinkedIn post or an email newsletter that you send to your list, because the signature talk tends to be between 30 minutes and 60 minutes long, kind of, you know, the sweet spot is that 35 to 45 minutes. And how I see a signature talk, it’s not that you have a presentation that is set in stone, and you never change a word of it. As you go from audience to audience. Number one, you need to be of service to that particular audience. In that event that you’re up in number two, you probably want to change it up a little bit yourself as a speaker, just to keep it interesting for you and keeping relevant to what’s going on.  So a signature talk really is the foundation for what it is that you want to be known for. And those those kind of high level lessons and takeaways that you want to share with your audience. So what are those key points? What are those lessons that you want to share? And so I developed a framework many years ago after working kind of with my first subset of clients, because I recognized I was asking them all the same questions or kind of getting to the same place for their talk. And so I developed this framework based on three story structure with kind of some marketing and sales, pizzazz thrown in there as well, to take the audience from the beginning of Act One all the way to the end of Act Three and taking that your audience on that journey of discovery for you. How did you Why is this topic important to you? Like what your big idea why is that important to us kind of like your thought leadership message. And then what are those lessons and takeaways that you want to share with your audience that could benefit them.  And so we use this framework when we work with our clients so that they’re not starting with a blank document, or a blank slide deck when they’re sitting down to create their presentation. And then you can repurpose your signature talk for different lengths of time for different formats of speaking engagements that you’re doing. But this way, you’re not creating brand new presentations all the time for everything that you’re doing. Now, I love to create presentations, this is why I created a business around public speaking. But most people are not like me, they want to have kind of one or two presentations, that again, they kind of adjust a little bit here and there but are ready to go. Because then they also get more comfortable with the material, the more that they present it.


Alastair McDermott  13:10

Yeah, I love that. I would love to dive in a bit further. Because I love frameworks and processes and things like that, would you be able to break down the framework for us? And just take us through that a little bit?


Carol Cox  13:21

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And actually, so on my website, I do have an opt in or free opt in where your listeners can download our thought leadership workbook, and in the workbook is the framework, so I’m going to describe it, but it’s helped to house it helps to have the visual for them as well. And that’s a is where they can get that. Okay so,


Alastair McDermott  13:41

We will link that in the show notes. Yep. Awesome.


Carol Cox  13:43

Fantastic. Okay, so it’s a three act story structure. And so we kind of when we do it, it’s like, it’s like a canvas. So if you’re familiar with the business model canvas, or the value proposition canvas, so it’s a canvas in that sense. So like a single piece of paper, or a poster board, and it’s divided into kind of swim lanes, so act one, act two, act three, and then we take post it notes, sticky notes. And we actually do this on a real poster board. I mean, you could do it on software, if you wanted to. And then we put the content on there, in the sticky notes allow us to rearrange content. So act one is where you’re setting up the situation for the audience. What is the audience want? What is their goal, obviously, related to your topic? You know, while you’re there, what does the audience want? What is their obstacles that are getting in their way of achieving that goal that they see or their obstacles? But what do you see, since you’re the speaker standing there? What do you see as the real problem, it’s like the iceberg, you know, underneath the surface of the water that you see is their real problem. So you can as you set up that situation and act one and then you bake in your bio and credibility into Act One. No. Why are you there talking about this? So that’s Act One, you’re setting up the situation.  Act two then is your main content. So that is what is your solution to that real problem that you see that the audience has your approach, your framework, your methodology, your Key Points, your lessons, that is Act Two, you can put in client examples, your own examples, your some audience activities, audience engagement, and so on. And then act three is, what are those results? Kind of like the resolution? What are the results and benefits that the audience can experience using your solution that you presented an act to them? What are those next steps that they can either go do on their own, or they can obviously do with you. So if it’s like a lead generation type of presentation, how can they work with you to go deeper, go further. And then I always like to end the talk kind of either referencing back to the beginning. So like having that call back to the beginning, and then leaving it with like some type of inspiration or motivation for the audience. So that is the three act story structure very quickly in a nutshell.


Alastair McDermott  15:45

I love it. I love it. And thank you for taking us through that. Actually, while you’re speaking, I downloaded the free opt in as well. So I have it here in front of me. So that’s really cool. I love how you’ve presented this here. It’s very, it’s very thorough how you’ve presented it as well. So let’s talk a little bit about the obstacles and the difference between perception and reality of those obstacles, because I’m interested in that part as well. When you talk to your clients about this, and you’re working with people like what how can you dive into that a little bit? How that breaks down?


Carol Cox  16:19

Sure, as far as what the audience perceives? Is there a problem with their obstacles versus what we see as the experts or the speakers as the real obstacles? Yeah, okay. So here’s an example that we can think about is, I worked with a client, she, she is actually based in the UK. And in the UK, there are reporting requirements around the gender pay gap. So companies over a certain size have to do reports to the government about, you know, salaries for the different employees. So she helps companies close that gender pay gap by looking at the data and helping them with consulting around that. So she has, so we were working together on a lead generation presentation for her that she could go to organizations, and then they would be interested in working with her.  So the obstacles that the audience thinks that they have these companies think they have on the gender pay gap, it may be things like well, you know, maybe our we don’t know what the data is, or the data is not clear about what how we paid, you know, different people in our organization, or the the reports are not giving us the actionable insights that we need. So whatever they think their problem is, but then she comes in and says, Well, actually, your problem may be that you’re not giving the right level of support, or coaching or HR, or whatever it happens to be underneath. That is what is actually causing this gender pay gap in the first place. So it’s kind of like, again, like, they’re not necessarily hidden. But there’s the things that the organizations or the people in the audience don’t immediately go to when they think about, like what is really, it’s not just the symptom of the problem, what is the root of the problem that we’re facing?


Alastair McDermott  17:53

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. It’s once you start to dig into a problem, you go, you can go multiple layers deep. And it’s to keep going there. Yeah. Okay, that’s really interesting. And so I’m really interested in in the concept of a signature talk. And I think that I’ve, I’ve started to develop that. And if if people have listened to this podcast for a while, I’ve actually republished some other people’s podcast interviews, where they’ve interviewed me on this podcast feed, and they will have heard me repeat myself on a couple of different topics, because I’ve started to figure out how to explain what I’m doing in a, in a way, and you use the word robust. And that’s really interesting. Because I think that that that’s the difference between the signature talk and what you talked about earlier about people talking about the outskirts of their knowledge, the signature talk, is you talking about something that’s right in the bullseye of your knowledge, it’s the it’s the it’s like your total expert area, that probably nobody else in the world has that particular knowledge or, or very few people. So I think that that, for me is quite interesting, because that’s the robust, that’s where the robustness comes. I also think part of that is, is to do with repetition. Is that something that you’ve seen is that


Carol Cox  19:08

Oh, yes, like as far as like, repeating your, your content, or what it is that you talk about in multiple places?


Alastair McDermott  19:14

Yeah. And being asked about the same topics over and again, over and over again, by different people, and having to explain in slightly different ways and use different examples, you you tend to start following the same I mean, I’ve noticed myself that I even use the same inflection on words and, and the same kind of pauses between sections and things like that. And so, because I remember thinking about having a signature talk for myself, a long time ago, like five years ago, and it just, it was probably a signal for me at the time, that I wasn’t specialized enough because I was having so much difficulty even coming up with the topic for that. And whereas now, it sounds to me like actually, I’m starting to almost accidentally put it together. So, which is kind of interesting. And I think that’s part of the specialization thing.


Carol Cox  20:04

Yes. And to your point, Alastair going on and being interviewed by different people, podcast, interviews, panel discussions, if you do virtual roundtables and so on, because you get these different questions in different ways from different people, you do start to recognize, oh, I am kind of bringing up the same examples, or the same stories, or I am answering in the same in a same way, but from a slightly different angle, or what happens to me so much, because I do a lot of interviews as well, that someone will ask me something, and I’ll answer and I’m like, Hey, I never put those two things together, literally until I just answered this question out loud. And then I’ll make a note of that, or I’ll go back and listen to that interview. And I’ll take that, and that can spur on so many other different things.


Alastair McDermott  20:42

Yeah, I think that questions really helped us to learn, you know, in our expert areas, I actually wrote a LinkedIn post about it, about the learning effect of publishing content, writing and publishing, because we learned so much from it. But but then not only do we learn from, you know, just writing it, and the kind of the neutrons connecting together and their brains or whatever is happening up there. But then we get the the effect of when somebody comes along with questions or comments. And we get that aspect as well. I think that’s, that’s really interesting. I think that for me, part of that is, it’s what’s starting to, I can see from your framework, and I can see from just listening to how you talk about this, that this is something that I’m starting to put together, almost subconsciously or accidentally, because it’s, that’s really fascinating for me, given how much I really tried to work on this, you know, a few years ago, it was difficult. So I’m interested in this whole thought leadership thing. And you know, I talked to people about becoming a recognized authority and thought leadership, it’s, it’s maybe a different way of saying the same thing. Or maybe there’s some nuance or some differences. But can you talk to me about thought leadership and what that means for you and why it’s important and how people can do that.


Carol Cox  21:55

Sure, Alastair. So I will say that this kind of my, my focus on thought leadership came about in the summer of 2020. Because as a public speaking company, definitely things changed a lot. When the pandemic started, and all the lockdowns happen, all these events and conferences that were in person got initially postponed and then cancelled. And I kind of had that, you know, that moment of what do I do as a business, when public speaking has changed so dramatically, and we don’t know when it’s coming back like it used to be. And so I surveyed our clients, and I started listening to them. And this idea of thought leadership actually came from them. And I was surprised that they kept using this term as far as why they worked with us in the first place, even before the pandemic, and I ended so then now as a good marketer, I’m thinking, Well, I’m gonna keep talking this idea of thought leadership, because that’s what my clients want are interested in.  The third element is your personal story, your personal journey, why does this matter to you? Why did you come to this career, to this business, to this big idea, to this change that you want to see in your industry or in the world? Why does this matter to you? Could be your those threads could go all the way back from when you when you were young. To today, it could be one experience you had, it could be just a multiple of things that have impacted you. So your personal story, your personal journey, but then there’s the fourth thing on top is the emotional courage to dig deep, and to share it. Because sharing the vulnerability, the imperfections. I like that you add your we’re going to talk about mistakes later on that you asked the question about business, the the mistakes, that’s where not only you understand yourself better, but that’s where you truly connect with your audience is through that vulnerability of digging deeper into your story, and really sharing the things that you feel most reluctant to share. That’s where the gold is. So we have our signature program is called theThought Leader Academy, public speaking, it happens to be the primary channel that we teach and train on and help our clients with around thought leadership, but books definitely writing a book, also, it can establish you as a thought leader. And so why I’m such a big proponent of thought leadership, and how I look at that leadership is that to your point, Alastair is your area of expertise, your specialization, because that gives you your foundation, because again, you want to be coming from a place that you know a lot about. But then there’s elements, other elements of thought leadership, besides just your area of expertise. And that’s your big idea. So what do you want to see changed, change in your industry could be changed in society could be a big picture change could just be you know, something a little bit small, like industry, wide. So what’s your big idea, but what you want to see for that better world that you imagine, but then that’s not enough, a lot of people stop there. And that’s not really going to make you the type of thought leader that you may want to be to get you more, more known.


Alastair McDermott  24:48

Yeah, I love that. And I, I love when people talk about business mistakes and failures because I think that everybody has them and the most successful people have more more of them than than others. And they’ve just pushed through and gone on. They haven’t they haven’t landed upset them, they’ve just viewed them as learning experiences. And in part, it’s there’s also a cultural thing. And it’s going to depend on on the listener where they are. But here in Ireland, people who have had mistakes, but not a success, yet, are seen as a failure more more than people in the US, I think, I think it’s failure is more tolerated there. And so, you know, you don’t talk and you don’t talk about your failures until you have have your success. You know, that’s, that’s just the way it goes. And so I think it’s important to embrace that and talk about all that, that’s, that’s why I do that. And the emotional courage is really interesting. So, so big idea, that change that you want to make your story, and then kind of wrapped all around that with the emotional courage to kind of get a bit vulnerable. And that vulnerability is the important bit as well, right?


Carol Cox  25:52

Yes. Now, second, let me give you an example of this from one of my clients. So her name is Tammy Lally, she gave a TEDx talk back in 2017, around money, shame. So like Brene, Brown is famous for talking about vulnerability and shame. And you know, in our personal lives, and even in our in our professional lives, well, my client, Tammy Lally, she really had seen money, shame, impact, not only her clients, because she’s a money coach, but impacted her own family. And so she got up on that TEDx stage for eight, nine minutes. And she had a very, very real vulnerable story, tragic story about what happened in her family. And I encourage listeners to go Google Tammy Lally TED talk, and they’ll find it. And it took her a lot of emotional courage to share that story. And we worked really hard on that. And she had to kind of work herself up to making this public because it was very hard for her. But she knew that by doing this, it wasn’t just about her expertise. It wasn’t just about the big idea about money shame, she knew she needed to put herself into that to create a real connection with her audience. Because she did that her talk has over 2 million views, which rarely happens for a TEDx talk, most get a few 1000 views. And commenters on her TED page, say things like you spoke the truth, that I felt the couldn’t verbalize. Basically, like, you helped me to understand my own situation better. And that would not have happened if Tammy hadn’t put herself into the story and had the emotional courage to share it.


Alastair McDermott  27:19

Yeah, absolutely. That’s really interesting. And that kind of difference in numbers just shows how important that is, you know, that that that that many people would, would watch and would comment, it goes back and I did some work around YouTube, and I did some some training around YouTube recently. And one of the things that I took from that was that I would need to make my educational YouTube videos, I would need to make them more entertaining, and bring more emotion into them, including things like the story three story, structure, and the 3x structure and bringing more story and open loops and things, but also that emotion and making an emotional connection with people. So I think that that’s hard for people, particularly when they’re talking about business. And and you know, they’re experts in some technical area, like, Why the hell do I want to bring emotion into this? Why do I want to, you know, why do I want to do that? And it’s, you know, like, we both have a kind of a development engineering type background, and it’s like, that doesn’t come natural to people like us, I think, to do that, you know, we’re more used to looking at, you know, formulas and, you know, code on a screen. So I’m really interested in that part.


Carol Cox  28:33

Yeah, Alastair. So I am definitely very much a left brain logical, analytical person. If you or your listeners are familiar with the Enneagram, I am a five, which is the investigator, the investigator just likes to problem solve, and worse things out, the kind of weakness side of the investigator is that they basically do not share any emotions, like at all and that is me to a tee. Like, I’m just gonna keep doing my work. I don’t need to think about my emotions or share them with the people closest to me, right? That’s awesome. I’m a work in progress.  However, here’s what I have discovered, and is that when I actually put myself I was a disservice to myself and my own personal growth and development, but it was a disservice to my business. And it was a disservice to my audience, not to share those personal stories with them. And we may think, Well, my topic is too technical or too tactical. That’s your second the expert trap again, because then what happens is you become replaceable. As a speaker, you can become replaceable as an expert. It’s almost like you become a commodity speaker, where why you versus someone else, like you’re all kind of interchangeable because you’re all going to teach us XYZ.  When you put your own personal story, your personal journey into it, then it’s more like oh, I want you because that like I You’re so relatable, like, I have felt that way too. I felt that disappointment. I felt that heartache. I felt that loss. It’s really we’re all humans having a human experience. And the more that I have groaned, I have recognized that by putting more emotion and sharing more personal stories is what connects me with other people. I do this on my podcast. It took me many, many, many episodes, to start doing this while I do many episodes. But I started doing this a couple of years ago. And I started my podcast five years ago. And so it takes it took me awhile, but I have I have experienced the benefits of it. And I have seen it so much with our with our clients who are also very much like me, and like you have started to incorporate the storytelling into what they do.


Alastair McDermott  30:30

Yeah. And okay, there’s a lot of interesting stuff in there. So first off, I’m also five in the Enneagram, which is also known as the thinker by the way. And so I saw a funny cartoon of ways of people describing of people describing the various different personality types in the anagram. And the fives idea of a perfect date was to go for a picnic where the two people were reading books on a hillside. And so


Carol Cox  30:58

Not talking to each other.


Alastair McDermott  30:59

And not talking to each other. It’s like, Yes, that’s me. So, and, you know, like, I’ve worked really hard to, because like, I think there’s a thing that goes along with that, where you you’re quite often are a natural introvert. And I have worked really hard on being more extroverted and revealing more, and, you know, consciously trying to force myself through that. Because I think it’s, it’s something that doesn’t come naturally to me until I really understand if, if somebody out there is listening to this and thinking, you know, I don’t want to put myself out there. If you do, you will get the reward of that. And, like, it’s not doing it in a mercenary way. But just something I think it’s important to say, like it’s being really authentic and genuine. And, you know, that’s something I talked about Chris Do with recently, where we were just talking about the idea of being strategic about the different things that you choose to put out. But just being careful, like, don’t be too mercenary with it to, you know, to share. But I don’t know, I don’t even know where the line is there. But you just have to be careful to do that in a way where it’s in service of the audience. So, yeah, do you have any thoughts on that on like, where that line is?


Carol Cox  32:07

Yes. So I always like to say your audience is not your therapist. So you need to have processed yourself and gotten past whatever it is that you want to share. So still dig deep, still be vulnerable. But you know, there’s also a thing for TMI, like too much information, like too much personal information. And like you said, Alastair, it’s always in service to the audience, what is going to help them that you can share about your story, it’s not there for you to process or for you just to kind of like emotionally dump all over your audience.


Alastair McDermott  32:39

Yeah, you know, Chris used a great example, if some if people are looking, I’ll link to Chris’s episode in the show notes. But it’s Chris Do is his name. But he he had a great example was kind of weird. But what he suggested was to think about the difference between the scar and a scab, a scab is kind of still raw. And so if something is like a scab, you don’t want to pick out it. You don’t want to reveal that because you’re still processing, like you said, whereas something is a scar. It’s not going to change anymore. It’s done. And so yeah, so that would be that would be something that you could talk about. So I thought that was a really interesting kind of example, that and that’s episode 69 of the podcast. So if anybody’s looking, it’s probably about 20 episodes back from this one. So okay, well, I’m just watching time because we got 10 minutes left, and you know that I have questions that I want to ask you. At first, is that the number one tip, what would you give? What was the number one tip that you’d give to somebody who wants to build their authority,


Carol Cox  33:38

Speak in front of people, public speaking, you have as a speaker, whether you’re onstage in front of hundreds or 1000 people, or you’re doing a workshop, whatever it happens to be, as a speaker, you have built in authority and credibility, because you were selected to be there. And that is one of the best things that you can do for for brand awareness, for lead generation, for attracting clients to you and for getting other speaking opportunities.


Alastair McDermott  34:03

I love it. Yeah. And I think that speaking, speaking, publishing, and research, for me are kind of the things that that will help to build, you’re not just your authority, but your expertise as well. And, and taking every opportunity to speak not not just doing it one time at at a big show, and you probably won’t, you won’t even be invited to do that if you haven’t done it a lot before, in smaller places. And getting on podcast is a great way to do that. So 100% with you.  Okay, so what about business mistakes or failures that you’ve experienced? Can you tell us a bit about what you did and and how it worked out and what you learned from it?


Carol Cox  34:39

Sure. So there are several that come to mind. I’m going to focus on one here it has to do with Thought Leadership and storytelling. So read those four essential ingredients of thought leadership that I talked about are your expertise, your big idea, your personal story and the emotional courage to share it and I knew that I know that when I started Speaking Your Brand in 2015 is sort of my podcast and 2017. I had a lot of guest interviews, client interviews, a lot of expert topics, a lot of training topics. And I never put myself my personal stories into it at all, I thought, Who cares? Like who would care about my stories? What does it have to do with teaching them about how to be a better public speaker?  Well, finally, in the summer of 2020, I think because of the pandemic and the lockdowns and just having so much more time to myself, and taking long walks every day, I started really thinking about a lot of, you know, kind of personal things related to my life. And I released an episode in summer 2020, about my dad who passed away when I was in college unexpectedly, and kind of, you know, growing up and some of the challenges that I had. And it really has nothing to do with public speaking, really nothing to do with speaking your brand. But I felt called to share it. And this new obviously, this had been, you know, decades earlier. And I was surprised at the response that I got from listeners, of course, they, you know, sympathize, and all of that. But they said, Carol, thank you so much for sharing that. I thought you were perfect. And now you now I know that you’re relatable, that I can come to you, if I have things that are going on with me whether I’m nervous before a speaking engagement or what have you. And I know now that you like your life has not been perfect. You’ve gone through stuff before. And of course, I never meant to portray myself as perfect on my podcast as the last thing that I would want listeners to think. But I had inadvertently done that, because I always had kept at a superficial level with my content.


Alastair McDermott  36:31

Yep, that’s really, really interesting. And, and it, I think it drives home to me. And going back to your examples from earlier, just the importance of that vulnerability. I know that it’s something that people talk about, and, you know, brand, a brand is out there. And but I it’s something that I still I’m thinking about and trying to figure out in relation to myself on my own business. But I think that’s you kind of hammering home that point for me so. So I might call this podcast episode the importance of vulnerability. So, okay, I asked about business books and resource them. And I’m, I think I know where you might go with this. But we’ll see. Can you tell me Is there a business book or resource that’s been important for you?


Carol Cox  37:13

Sure. So I read widely, of course, being the Enneagram five, right, right. I read it all the time, though, the book that I love, because it forces me to tap into my right brain side, my more creative side is “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Elizabeth Gilbert is very well known for Eat Pray, Love course, you know, big movies, you know, blockbuster and all of that. But Big Magic, she talks about ideas, and how ideas like are kind of swirling out there. And then they’ll come to a person. And it’s up to you to decide if you want to activate that idea in your art, whether your art is a signature talk, a book, a piece of art, whatever it happens to be. And if you don’t, and she has examples of this in the book, you’re that idea may leave you and go to someone else and kind of like, get just dated in that other person. And that’s okay, but I just love this this like idea of ideas and where they come from.


Alastair McDermott  38:03

That’s awesome. And that was not what I was expecting you to say. So that’s great. What about fiction? Do you read fiction much?


Carol Cox  38:10

Yes, I always am reading one fiction and one nonfiction book at a time. Okay, so so many fiction books, but I’m going to also do another one by Elizabeth Gilbert, same author. Her book is called “The Signature of All Things”. It’s a novel she published about five years ago, and it’s about a woman who grows up in early 1800s. America, New England and just and wants to become a botanist, because she’s a woman. So she can’t write that because women didn’t have careers back then. But it’s like about her lifespan, which is about 80 years and how she came she has this idea is about natural selection. At the same time. Charles Darwin does I mean obviously is a fictional book, but it is so well written. It is so engrossing. I’ve read it twice and I’ll probably read it again.


Alastair McDermott  38:51

Awesome, really interesting. Yeah. And what other type of stuff because I know you read a lot what other type of stuff do you read?


Carol Cox  38:57

Okay, well, again, lots of you know, marketing nonfiction kind of you know, leadership business books, and you know, unfortunately not as many by women as I would like and I really want to find some more so if your listeners have any great you know, business marketing books, let me know but I will say this so you I know we mentioned before we started recording that in addition to fiction books, we can also talk about TV shows. So I am obsessed with the TV series “Succession” that’s on HBO. Okay, have you seen it?


Alastair McDermott  39:28

I don’t think I’ve seen it but I’ve heard of it for sure.


Carol Cox  39:30

So Succession is about this kind of media media mogul family, and you know, primarily takes place in New York City is kind of like the Murdochs they’re like the Murdoch family but also probably a little about the Trump family and you think that I have zero interest in watching this because of I definitely am not the opposite side of the political spectrum is that but it is, it seems like a drama but it’s actually a dark comedy. And it is so like, so outrageous at times, and the the dialogue the scriptwriting is so good at that. It’s I’m actually rewatching the the first three seasons.


Alastair McDermott  40:06

Awesome. I really liked our comedy. Yeah. Very cool. So that Yeah, it’s hard for us. Well, I guess I don’t know, I’ve never tried to subscribe to HBO. It’s not it’s not a channel that is kind of frequently shown over here. So but I guess we could we can stream everything now. So let’s check that out and see what else is on there.  Carol? Where can people find you if they are interested in learning more?


Carol Cox  40:29

Sure. So it since you’re listening to a podcast right now you can go find my podcast called Speaking Your Brand, 280 plus episodes and counting. So all different types of topics. They’re related to public speaking and thought leadership. And then my website is And I primarily hang out on LinkedIn.


Alastair McDermott  40:45

Cool. And also in the show notes is the link to download the guide that we talked about earlier for signature for creating a signature talk. So that will be there as well. So Carol, thank you so much. It’s been a fascinating talk and great topic today.


Carol Cox  41:02

Thank you so much, Alastair, I appreciate being on.


Alastair McDermott  41:08

Thanks for listening. If you gained any insights or tips from this episode, please leave a review. It would really help us out. And it’s very easy to do. Just click on the review link in the show notes on your device and it will bring you straight to a page with options for the device that you’re listening on. Thanks, it really helps. It’s much appreciated.


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