I’ve always had a bucket list item that I thought would never happen in my lifetime…giving a 𝐓𝐄𝐃 talk. What idea could this 50-yr old former Corporate Brand Marketer possibly have that was worth sharing with the world?
Well five years after making a spur-of-the-moment decision to quit my corporate career, that crazy dream became a reality when I spoke at 𝐓𝐄𝐃𝐱 𝐌𝐚𝐧𝐡𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐚𝐧 𝐁𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡 on November 5th, 2022 in California.
Many people have asked me how I was able to get onto the 𝐓𝐄𝐃𝐱 𝐌𝐚𝐧𝐡𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐚𝐧 𝐁𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡 stage all the way from New Jersey and what was my journey like to get to the “Red Dot.”?
Candidly, my overall experience was both CHALLENGING and profound. That’s why I decided to record this episode, in the hopes of paving an easier road for anyone who is fortunate enough to make it onto a 𝐓𝐄𝐃𝐱 stage like I did.
I’ll start by saying the every single person that comes into your life helps you move one step closer to your North Star. It’s your job to figure out *how* they can get you there.
*How* I do it is through SERVANT-LEADERSHIP: You start by helping others first.
Here’s my serendipitous story…
In Fall 2021, Diana Allen reached out to connect after being at a conference called Brilliant, where she listened to me being interviewed by Keri Murphy, the CEO of Inspired Living who created the event (Check Keri out at inspiredliving.tv).
From the moment the Zoom started, Diana and I clicked. Her authenticity in wanting to hear about my journey to becoming an entrepreneur at age 50 made me feel like I’d known her all my life.
Diana mentioned that she was thinking about her own “Act 2,” but didn’t know where to begin…
From the little bit of background she shared, I had a hunch that there was a powerful core value inside of her that could bring clarity to her entire story – and become the anchor with which she could create her next venture.
The brand bells started going off in my head, and I knew I could help Diana get a jumpstart by offering her my ‘One Word’ program with complementary access.
At the end of the Zoom, Diana asked how she can help me and I simply said, “Just do my ‘One Word’ program…that would make me so happy!”. Then she asked me what my goals were for 2022 and I happened to mention that bucket list item to do a 𝐓𝐄𝐃 talk one day.
AND that’s when Diana shared that ironically she recruits speakers for 𝐓𝐄𝐃𝐱 𝐌𝐚𝐧𝐡𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐚𝐧 𝐁𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡. But in that moment, I didn’t think my ‘One Word’ branding philosophy was a good enough idea worth sharing. Well, after completing my program, Diana did – and in April 2022, she surprised me with the news that I was invited to speak inside the “Red Dot” (By the way, Diana’s ‘One Word’ is BARRIER-BREAKER…I do allow hyphens in my ‘One Words”).
Never in a million years did I expect that the person who connected with me at a conference I didn’t attend would give me a global platform to share my idea: “The power of distilling your personal brand down to ‘One Word’!”
This chance encounter with Diana validated something I’ve always believed:
If you want to reach your goals and dreams, start by helping others reach theirs first.
Now to be completely honest, while I was excited to get this 𝐓𝐄𝐃𝐱 opportunity, the months of preparation involved in gearing up for my talk were the most challenging of my personal development. Never did I expect the unimaginable highs and lows of the writing process. The adventure of crafting my life’s work into a talk less than the length of a Seinfeld episode was no easy feat.
I had a very hard time seeing the forest through the trees.
Let me explain….
I learned very early-on in the process that a critical success factor in giving an effective 𝐓𝐄𝐃 talk is to focus on one idea. That idea emerges as you develop your thesis statement, the sentence that states the main point of your talk. For me, this was the most difficult part of the writing process, and it was only the beginning. My writing team pushed me incredibly hard to get to my thesis, why people need to discover their ‘One Word’. In fact, one team member shared, “I’m already successful and I don’t need to know my ‘One Word’!” This was the first time, since leaving my corporate career, that I was challenged to defend my branding philosophy. And candidly, I couldn’t clearly articulate why I believed so strongly that people needed to know their ‘One Word’ core value.
I came face-to-face early on in the process with 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐬𝐲𝐧𝐝𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐞, questioning whether my ‘One Word’ platform had any merit. But rather than give up, which I came very close to doing may times, I reached out to former clients for candid feedback, and even listened back to every single podcast interview I’ve recorded.
It turned out there was a common thread that was so clear, but I couldn’t see it — because I was too involved.
Simply, the answer was CLARITY, and my thesis statement emerged which set the tone for the writing process ahead:
“The feeling that comes when we identify the ‘One Word’ that captures who we are is a eureka moment of clarity.”
This reflection process would prove to be the CATALYST that turned my 𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐬𝐲𝐧𝐝𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐞 into a full-blown conviction to continue empowering entrepreneurs, business leaders, and college and high school trailblazers to step into their own identities in just ‘One Word’.
While I felt confident that this was the answer, I’m someone who always looks to the universe for signals that I’m moving in the right direction.
The day before my talk, my wife and I were exploring Manhattan Beach, California and we walked into a craft shop. At the front table was a glass bowl filled with polished rocks, each with a different word inscribed on it.
And at the top, staring me in the face, was the word CLARITY.
I paid $20 for that embossed rock and carried it in my pants pocket on 𝐓𝐄𝐃𝐱 day. And while one can argue that $20 is a lot for a polished rock, what I really paid for was the confidence I needed knowing that I can truly help people have their eureka moment of CLARITY — if they’re willing to discover their own ‘One Word’!
As I walked onto the stage and saw the “Red Dot” ahead, I felt a powerful wave of emotion. Surprisingly, I was NOT nervous at all as I stepped inside the “Red Dot”, which, by the way, was a shag carpet. In my head, I was just praying that I WOULDN’T TRIP!”.
My performance coach encouraged me to take a veryyy deep breath which I did – and the audience heard it loud and clear, because I forgot that I was mic’d – open with my first line – “Tell me about yourself?,” – and then take a 5-second pause, which felt like an eternity. It worked. It gave me the opportunity to adjust to the lights, which were so bright I couldn’t see anyone in the audience.
I knew that was the moment when there was no turning back. My brain took over, and it was time to take the audience on a journey by sharing the stories of people who experienced their eureka moment of CLARITY when they identified the ‘One Word’ that captured who they are.
While inside the “Red Dot”, I truly felt the power the 𝐓𝐄𝐃 brand has to impact lives on a global scale. I treated this experience as an Olympic moment few get to encounter – and 14.5 minutes later – I can honestly say I left it all inside that “Red Dot.”
When you survive cancer at 26 years old, it changes your entire perspective on life…AND when you’re married to a 12-year cancer survivor, you often ponder why you’re both still here.
When I walked off that stage, I finally understood why: I’M NOT FINISHED SERVING!
Many have asked me:
Rich, what’s the ONE lesson you took away from your 6-month 𝐓𝐄𝐃𝐱 journey to the “Red Dot”?
Well I actually have 10 learnings to share that ladder up to the ONE lesson I walked away with:
I’d like to share the 10-learnings first that led me to this ONE lesson:
Learning #1: Keep it simple. Focus on ONE idea you want the audience to walk away with!
Learning #2: Take the audience on a journey – one step at a time – and speak their language, because they don’t have the same years of experience as you do on your topic.
Learning #3: Leave your ego at the door. Vulnerability wins over the audience. The key to vulnerability is storytelling…make it personal!
Learning #4: Your talk is a conversation with the audience; act as if you’re in their living room by leading with your heart ( make it emotional) → NOT with your head (don’t’ make it functional).
Learning #5: Talk WITH the audience, not AT them. Keep in mind, this is NOT a presentation. Treat everyone in the room equally.
Learning #6: Trust the process…and the people who know what-it-takes to make you shine inside the “Red Dot.” Crafting a 𝐓𝐄𝐃𝐱 talk is a team-based sport.
Learning #7: Practice-Practice-Practice! Just know that there’s a huge difference between memorizing your talk and feeling your talk…
…which leads into:
Learning #8: Authenticity can’t be fabricated. Connection happens when you show the audience that you live what you’re sharing.
Learning #9: Film yourself as often as you can to gain an awareness of mannerisms and intonations that could be distracting to the audience. Also, seeing visual evidence of your progress is highly motivating.
Learning #10: Step outside your comfort zone by moving around inside the “Red Dot.” Loosen up and be yourself. It makes you more relatable and the audience can sense your warmth as you speak.
All these learnings, led to the ONE lesson I took away from this entire journey: 𝐀 𝐓𝐄𝐃𝐱 𝐓𝐚𝐥𝐤 𝐦𝐢𝐫𝐫𝐨𝐫𝐬 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐝𝐚𝐲 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠!
To my family, all my friends, and the amazing 𝐓𝐄𝐃𝐱 𝐌𝐚𝐧𝐡𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐚𝐧 𝐁𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡 team that supported me on this crazy journey, I share ‘One Word’ that comes from my heart: THANKS!
You can learn more about this top 𝐓𝐄𝐃𝐱 event at tedxmanhattanbeach.com
As I look back on this entire experience, despite the perpetual anxiety I felt all along the way, I wouldn’t change a single moment. If anything, it has emboldened me to continue my mission to Transform 1 Million Lives ‘One Word’ at a Time.
All it takes is ‘One Word’ to Stand-out Conquer Obstacles Reach Excellence and SCORE!
Please DM me if you want to talk further or need any help on your 𝐓𝐄𝐃𝐱 journey.
You can watch my 𝐓𝐄𝐃𝐱 talk at therichkeller.com
Good luck on your journey to the “Red Dot”!