I was recently having a casual conversation with a woman talking about what I do. She had the usual questions, “who do you work with?”, “how did you get started?”, “so you’re a speech therapist!?”. I tilted my head a bit and thought about that last question. My first inclination was to laugh and correct her. Then it hit me. Speech therapist. “I am a kind of a speech therapist!”, I thought. It’s a hell of a lot more descriptive than media trainer or message development specialist that’s for sure! It got me thinking about what I do and how it works. Joining the words “speech” and “therapist” actually makes a ton of sense.
When I first speak with a potential client about business…my first job and the most important part of the process is to LISTEN. Much like a therapist in the psychological sense, I let the person talk, and thoughtfully begin to evaluate how I can help. I need to identify what is working, what is not. What is learned behavior and what is hard wired. What is temporary and what is permanent. What is the comfort zone and what needs to be pushed harder. What details matter and what is clutter.
The second step is to take that information and come up with a plan. Not a template, but a true long term plan that is crafted for that client and that client only. No two CEO’s have the same message, no two sales people will have the same pitch, no two speeches should be delivered the same. It is all about individual challenges that require custom solutions. Same in therapy. Yes, clearly I have had some of my own!
Finally I need to take the first two steps and create a “tool box” for my clients. Ways they can reach into their own heads after I am gone and be able to help themselves in real life situations. Messages may change, jobs may change, but good habits and solid “tools” stand the test of time over a professional life.
As I continued my conversation the woman began to tell me about her friend, the CEO, who had just sold a company for 2-billion dollars and was launching a new product. I handed her my card and said he should call me. “Oh god he doesn’t need any coaching…he talks all the time and he is SUPER confident,” she chuckled. That’s when I kind of laughed too. To myself of course. Maybe this guy’s is the best speaker in the world. Maybe he is in front of a camera days on end. Maybe he has been asked every tough question their is to answer and can predict the rest that may be thrown at him. Maybe. But I doubt it.
I really believe we all need some kind “therapy” at least once in our lives. As CEO’s, leaders, and just as people…we all benefit from someone else listening and guiding us as things change. Someone who’s expertise is different and who’s eyes see us in a totally different way and ears hear a different interpretation from what we assume to be obvious.
If I could talk to said 2-billion dollar CEO…I would say this.
“Congratulations on your success. Have you learned everything you want to learn?” I bet the answer is no.
Therapy. To me it means education. It is being vulnerable. It is accepting help when you are afraid to take it. It is realizing you might need help in the first place and being brave enough to go for it. Letting walls down and allowing ego’s to take a back seat is NEVER easy. Nothing worth working hard for IS easy.
I will probably never work with said 2-billion dollar CEO. He may never want my “therapy” or anyone else’s for that matter. But, I would love to take a look inside his “tool box”, because in my humble opinion…there is always something that can be sharpened.
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By Kristen Daly