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TEDx Talks And Leadership: How To Win With Words with Tricia Brouk | #014

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Being a leader is putting yourself in the same shoes as who you’re working with. It comes from within. Director, writer, choreographer and producer Tricia Brouk says when she’s leading a group, whether it’s her company, her speakers or her actors, she always want them to feel safe. Tricia’s company, The Big Talk, is where she applies her expertise on the art of public speaking and her platform for helping people how to win with words. Whether you have a hundred ideas or if you have zero ideas, both of those can cause paralysis. You’ve got canned answers and you’ve been saying them for so long and so many times that that’s the only thing you’re saying. Tricia says she gets in there and gets through all of that so you can both get to the real heart and soul of what your idea that you’re spreading is all about.

TEDx Talks And Leadership: How To Win With Words with Tricia Brouk

I just hopped off my interview with Tricia Brouk from The Big Talk. This episode was very fascinating. I have yet to speak with somebody who was a creative professional as is Tricia, who has been on the production side and the directing side and even on the performing side. She comes from a background of performing arts and now she is the executive producer for TEDxLincolnSquare in New York City. I was fascinated to talk about what she has done and how her business has transformed from the start and the different types of skills that have made her successful.

Towards the end of the interview, I finally found the connection between the two of us, because I always try to build that connection of skill sets. She talks about something very important that is relevant to everybody who wants to be successful and make a deep connection with other people, whether it’s clients, whether it’s just other relationships that you have in your life and in your business. It’s super important to make sure that you pay attention to the end. Without further ado, let’s jump right into this episode.

Tricia, welcome to the show. How are you doing? Are you excited?

I am so excited to be here with you, Joel. Thank you for having me.

We’re going to have a lot of fun with this one because I go deep into stories. I love to uncover opportunities. Figure out where the opportunities were that came up for you to pivot from, what made you successful here to what made you successful there, and the whole nine yards. Before we jump into the background, tell us what you do.

I live in New York City. I’m in showbiz. I’m a director, writer, choreographer, and producer. I work in film, television, and theater. I’m the Executive Producer of TEDxLincolnSquare. My company, The Big Talk is where I apply my expertise to the art of public speaking. I also have a podcast called The Big Talk where I interview people who talk for a living.

How long has The Big Talk been around?

It’s been around for two years. It’s a very new baby.

You’re super successful. You’ve got a lot of great substance behind your company. I want to start with the start of your expertise. You said you came from Missouri and you’re living in New York City now. Give me a little bit of background about that and what brought you to New York City and let’s start there.

I have always been a dancer. I grew up knowing I was going to leave Missouri and move to New York City to pursue my career in dance. I knew I was going to dance with Baryshnikov one day and I did. I moved here knowing that I was going to do that and I was going to make it happen no matter what. I also was very clear that I had no interest in being a starving artist. Early on, I got myself hired at New York Health & Racquet as a personal trainer.

I also realized that I didn’t like working for anybody else because I had no desire to wear blue gym shorts and a white button-down collared shirt. I figured out how to start my own company, which is 27 years going strong, Brouk Moves Elite In-Home Personal Training. What that enabled me to do was to use my understanding from being a dancer and my innate understanding of the body to help other people in the fitness world.

I also realized that when I was going on tour, I could still make money if I hired trainers to work for me. I was able to scale, make money while I wasn’t doing anything there and go on the road with dance companies. I was an entrepreneur early on without knowing I was an entrepreneur. That taught me how to lead, stay organized, be in control of my income at all times.

From there, I was able to continue in the world of performing arts, producing shows that I wanted because my fitness company gave me the resources to do that. Not only the time resources but the financial resources. That side of my business enabled me to have my creative side and moved into directing, writing, television, film and theater. I started The Big Talk by accident because Petra Kolber, a friend of mine who was a fan of my work, proposed that I direct her TEDxSyracuse and I had been a fan of TED Talks.

I knew all about the forum, but I didn’t know the art form of what a TED Talk was. I did my research, I worked with her and we worked on performance. We worked on script analysis just like with any actor and it was fantastic. What I love so much about it too, Joel, was that unlike actors when you’re working with a speaker, it’s about the message. It’s an inspiring process because I get to spend time with people who have something so important to say that, that message is something that I get to listen to day in and day out. After we worked together, she planted the seed, which was, “You should do this. You’re good at it.” I thought, “Let me start a new company.”

I started The Big Talk. I had no idea how to leverage this because I had zero credibility in the world of public speaking. What I started doing was working with speakers. I started a podcast, John Lee Dumas planted that seed. He said, “You should do a couple podcast episodes so people will understand what your process is.” 169 episodes later, I think people know what my process is. I began working with speakers who wanted to work with me specifically because of my point of view as a director.

I’m not a coach. I’m a director who works with speakers like I do actors. All of a sudden, I have this handful of incredible speakers and nowhere to put them. I produce theater. That’s what I do. I thought, “How can I put on a show with these incredible speakers? I know, I’ll apply for my TEDx license.” I applied for TEDx license. I got TEDxLincolnSquare and put on my very first event with Jamie Broderick, my co-producer. We did our second event and it was incredible.

I’ve got this podcast with all of these incredible people that talk for a living who share their information to my audience. I’ve got TEDxLincolnSquare. I’m also using my expertise as a film maker to help tell stories of people who have important things to do in the world, whether it’s an entrepreneur or whether it’s the chaplain at Rikers Island. I am helping people tell stories and the reason Brouk Moves was such an important part of that is because it gave me the financial freedom and the time to pursue this other world. If I can say anything to everyone is that opportunity is everywhere. You have to be able to see it and to make it work for you.

You have a fantastic timeline and there was a lot in there. You’re doing incredible things. You said you didn’t want to be a starving artist. You were a dancer but you started a fitness company. Were you only working with dancers in the fitness company? Who is your ideal audience in that first fitness company?

I never worked with dancers. I worked with people who wanted to work out, who wanted to get fit, who wanted to stay fit, who wanted to have longevity in their lives and we go to them. This entire time I’ve got zero overhead and independent contractors. It’s a great way for me to have a solid and consistent income while helping people stay healthy.

Why didn’t you decide to work with dancers?

Dancers couldn’t afford me.

Did you learn that the hard way?

No. I knew that, dancers can’t pay plus dancers know how to work out themselves.

Out of curiosity, when you started the fitness company, you worked with people who wanted to get in shape. How were you different? How did you market yourself? Did you do anything crazy? In my mind, you’re a dancer and you’re marketing to people to get healthy? What was the unique spin that you were doing to attract those clients in this super successful company?

The unique spin that is who I am as Tricia Brouk and who I always continue to be is that I care about what I’m doing. Whether it’s working with clients 27 years ago or working with speakers now, what you see is what you get. I am fully showing up for you. That’s what made me different when I was working with clients. What made us stay so relevant and maintain clients for over 27 years is that I’m very hands on and I train my trainers to behave and to work the same way I did. I’ve created this essence of Tricia Brouk that I then send to those trainers. I can’t be in two places at once. I don’t work with my clients anymore.

I certainly get on the phone with them and make sure that they’re taken care of, but that machine is well-oiled and has been running for so long that I continue to focus on showbiz and The Big Talk. What I’ve done, Joel, because the market of personal training in New York City is so saturated, I’ve brought on a personal chef service with my company. Brouk Moves is a concierge fitness and health company. Bringing on a personal chef has changed the game. It’s always about adapting, adjusting, continuing to change and give the client what they need and want.

Did you ever position yourself as a dancer as a value-add to these fitness pros, these people who wanted to get healthy? You said dance professionals know how to work out. They know how to get in shape. Did you feel dancers were the most experienced workout professionals out there? I’m trying to figure out how you were able to position yourself going to a big city. You didn’t know anyone, it’s new opportunities. You made a specific target not to go after dancers, but you were a dancer at yourself and so I’m curious.

What I can say about that for sure because I still have a lot of professional dancers who worked for Brouk Moves and what I love about hiring dancers is, A) They know about the body more than anyone, B) They will show up on time. They will do what they need to do to make it happen. They’re incredibly disciplined and they’re going to do more than just count repetitions.

They know about the body more than anybody. As that started to grow, were you still achieving your performing arts career on the side? Was this all a side gig to fund your aspirations of dancing with your idols?

I’ve never worked for anyone but myself. Being able to be self-employed my entire life is something that is epic. I never went from corporate to anything. I knew that I wanted to always perform, pursue performing arts, work in show business. I had to figure out how I was going to do that without having the constraints of somebody telling me when I had to be in an office. I always knew that my showbiz career and my directing career was going to be what I did. I needed to position myself in a way that I could make the decisions on when I was, where I was and that’s how I did it.

Are you still dancing? Are you still in the performing arts?

I’m in the performing arts but I’m not dancing anymore.

When did you stop dancing?

I did a show in 2007. It was a solo show and I had been working with many choreographers my whole career who had choreographed solos on me. I’d begun to choreograph as well. I did an evening of dance where it was all solos. It was very much like putting down a Zen sand sculpture. I took nine months to do it. I methodically planned. I knew exactly what to eat. I knew exactly when to sit in between each dance so that I could get through this hour of me dancing by myself. After it was over, it was like wiping the sand away. There was absolute happiness and peace. There was no regret. There was no, “I wish I could keep dancing.” That’s not to say that I didn’t perform later on, but I waved goodbye to the main career of my dance background during that show.

Did you know that was going to be it?

Absolutely. Warming up gets old. I have other things to do and that’s why it’s important for me to continue to keep the story moving. I have to continue to make a difference in the world and to help other people tell their stories. If I was constantly telling my story, many people wouldn’t be able to get on the stages that I can put them on.

What’s happening in 2007? Let’s focus in on this. You knew that you wanted to keep the story going. Leading up to this moment or I’m assuming you probably had plans and this wasn’t like, I’m done after this.” How was your fitness business going at this point? It was probably well-established.

My fitness company has been completely solid and consistent for 27 years.

In 2007, was there any significance with your last performance in terms of what you’re doing professionally with your business? Where’s the professional life taking you at this point or maybe this isn’t a significant moment?

I think the significance behind me doing a solo show was that I wanted to be able to move on from the performance side of what I can give to the world. Then I began to pursue what it meant to write, what it meant to direct, what it meant to choreograph, to be on the other side of the table and to lead other people in a way that I had been led up until that point.

This was the genesis of you getting into this side of the business, which is writing, directing and choreographing.

They merged at that point and I knew that I was more interested in being on the other side of the table, but I also knew that I had one more big show in me. I wanted to be able to do that.

Tell me about your first major experience with writing, directing and choreographing. What was that like? I’ve never done it. You’re huge on leadership. You’ve said time and time again that leadership is your strong suit and what you’ve done to make these two companies successful.

What I’d like to say about that, if I may, is what has completely correlated with my fitness company and with how I direct and work on sets and produce twelve speakers at TEDxLincolnSquare, is that when I worked for a fitness company, that’s the only company I’ve ever worked for. I made a promise to myself that I would never do what they did. I would do the opposite and I would make sure that my trainers felt like they could come to me with anything.

They would always get paid on time. It was a safe environment. They were supported. They knew I was their cheerleader and that is exactly how I am on set. It’s exactly how I am with any actor, with any speaker. The direct relationship between who I became when I was starting the fitness company and who I am now is exactly the same. My job is to make you your best self so that the product can be the excellence that I demand of myself. Those two things are directly related.

If we go back to when I became a choreographer, this was a perfect example of an opportunity being presented to me and me saying, “Yes.” I can tell you that John Turturro asked me to come to Mark Morris’ studio, which is over by BAM, and he said, “I want you to dance with these New York City Firefighters and Kate Winslet is Tula. I want you to pretend like you’re Tula and I want you to dance with these firefighters,” and then I did.

What am I going to lose? I have nothing to lose. Then he said, “Can you choreograph my movie starring James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Christopher Walken, Bobby Cannavale, Eddie Izzard, Steve Buscemi?” I said, “Yes.” That opportunity presented itself to me. A former dancer friend of mine was teaching him Pilates. It came out of nowhere and I embraced that opportunity and it then opened up the world of show business to me.

When was that? What year?

It was in 2005.

That was your first professional experience of choreography, right?


As you’re going through that, that opened the doors to tremendous things to happen with essentially what you’re doing now. From 2005, 2007 to where we are now with The Big Talk New York City, we’ve got a gap of nine or ten years before The Big Talk came up. What’s happening then between that gap?

I wrote two musicals. I produced two musicals. I wrote a sitcom, I wrote a screenplay. I became the executive producer of Charlie Tango and we raised money for a screenplay that I wrote and I continued to create products, to create shows and writing. That’s what I do. That’s why it’s so important for everybody to know that if you want to be a prolific artist, working at a restaurant is absolutely acceptable, but it’s a time suck. If you can find a way to make money when you’re sitting in front of your computer writing or when you’re in the studio choreographing or when you’re on set directing, that will completely support who you are as an artist.

With these gigs that you were coming up and would you consider yourself a freelancer during that? You didn’t have a formal business doing this. These were other opportunities that were popping up. Am I understanding that correctly?

No, I wouldn’t call myself a freelancer. I certainly do work when somebody calls and says I have something for you to work on, but I produce all of my own work. That’s what I was doing. I was constantly creating. I was constantly producing. If I decided I wanted to write a musical about mental illness, I did. I hired the actors. I hired the sound engineer. I rented the studio. I hired the theater. I make shit happen.

Let’s fast forward up to the opportunity when you decided to say, I got this opportunity with my friend who wanted me to direct the TEDx Talk in Syracuse.

She wanted me to help her with the script and help her with the direction of it.

What goes into directing a TEDx Talk? I’m coming at it totally blind. I know nothing about it. Can you give me a little bit of background about what that look like?

The way I work with an actor or with a speaker is by getting them to understand what their intention is behind everything they’re saying. Getting them to know what their objective is, which is what they want from an audience and how they’re going to do that, which is how they play an action. When I’m working with a speaker or an actor, the first thing I have to do is become vulnerable and create a safe space for them so that they can become vulnerable. Therefore, their message is extremely authentic. If they’re protected because they don’t trust me, we’re not going to get to the most beautiful, powerful, vulnerable, impactful talk or impactful scene we can get to. I create a safe space and then we begin to work. I’m extremely demanding but I’m also incredibly loving. That combination gets me what I need from my actors or my speakers.

Where did you learn how to create that safe space? It’s very powerful. In The Webinar Agency, which is what I do as my main business, we help craft messages as well. For me personally, I wouldn’t call it a safe space, but I had to get my clients to open up. How did you discover that? When you said the word safe space, is that something that you came up with?

No, this is something that many directors and people in the world of performing arts know is necessary. What I want to say about that that’s important is I was on the other side of the table. When directors or other choreographers created environments that were hostile or abusive, I knew that I would never ever do that because you do not need to do that in order to get somebody’s best work. That is absolutely not true.

Can you keep going about the story with your friend for the TEDx Talk in Syracuse? You helped them create a safe space. What was the intention? Was it a male or female?

Petra Kolber is the speaker and her talk was called The Perfection Detox. We knew each other for many, many years. Creating a safe environment was fairly easy because she already knew who I was. We’d been social many times and she also had seen my work. There was a built-in trust. The first start of the process was going through her script and identifying what needed to be there, what didn’t need to be there when she was saying something disguised as different word combinations, but it was the same thing. We get it on its feet and we’d start to workshop the content on its feet.

We would find out what was important, what she needed to keep, what she needed to speed up, what she needed to stand still and say. How she needed to shock the audience to get their attention at the very beginning of the talk. What kind of theatricality we wanted so that it wasn’t just another TEDx. That’s something that I do. My event is what I call theatrical academia. I’m a theatrical performer. I am somebody who’s been in the performing arts my entire life. I’m an artist. I’m a creative. I put that spin on everything that I touch.

It’s extremely important too. Creativity is probably the crux of anyone who is giving a speech and giving a transformational message. How did it turn out? How did the Syracuse TEDx Talk end up?

It was amazing. I was so proud of her. It was a special and momentous moment. She felt satisfied and fulfilled. When you become a TEDx speaker, it opens doors. It is a big deal. You have immediate credibility. It opens doors to future speaking gigs for any speaker that gives a TEDx. It’s a big deal.

What was the transformation from when you first looked at her first script and when you saw the final delivery? How big of a change was it? How much of an impact did you have specifically in fine tuning that message and making sure that that was going to be the best it could be?

What’s unique about this question is that a TEDx is a very specific animal. It’s different from a keynote and Petra had been speaking all over the place. This wasn’t her first rodeo as far as getting in front of an audience talking, but it was her first experience giving a TEDx, which is an art form. It’s a gift, not an ask. It’s an idea, not an issue. I had a lot of input with how to create what was truly a TEDx Talk. How did I feel about it? I felt fantastic about it because I was able to help this colleague and this friend accomplish something that was important. She did it with grace. She did it with expertise. She did it with complete calm. It was a win.

You have an awesome success story. You helped your friend crush it in Syracuse. Where did the idea start percolating for Lincoln Square?

TEDxLincolnSquare didn’t start percolating at all. I didn’t even think I would continue working with speakers. I was going back to directing and writing my own shows and doing my own thing and managing my trainers. She said, “You should do this.” I thought, “I’ll do it.” I started the process of the website design, The Big Talk, and began thinking about how to build credibility, get press, all the things that you get when you’re starting out, all the things that you have to roll your sleeves up and do. I wasn’t starting out. My fitness company was doing what it needed to do and this gave me more opportunity. I have the time to pursue starting a new company, The Big Talk.

Petra then said, “You should meet Jamie Broderick. She is amazing. She might have some people who could be speakers for you, clients for you.” I invited Jamie to New York for lunch. Jamie is a visibility strategist and a connector. Her company is called Success Connection. By the end of lunch, I had hired her to take me on as a client, to help me get online credibility, to help me with social media and to help me launch The Big Talk.

We worked together. I did not have a Facebook account. I was not on Facebook for conscious reasons, very little bit of LinkedIn was happening. She took me through online entrepreneurialism 101. She knew what to do and I let her do it. Part of being her client enabled me to be on a call with John Lee Dumas. John Lee Dumas said, “Since nobody knows what you do, you should do three podcasts and go over your process.”

I did that, loved it. I realized that I have a lot to say about the art of public speaking. I can help a lot of people tell their stories. It’s been ongoing for two years, 169 episodes so far. The season that’s happening now is TEDx organizers. I interview fifteen TEDx organizers about what it means to be an organizer. I try to pull back that curtain. Going back, Jamie helped me, John Lee Dumas planted the seed of starting a podcast and then all of a sudden, speakers started coming to me. “I want to do a TEDx.” “Let’s manifest it.” “I want to do a TEDx.” “Let me help you do that.” I became an expert on the art of what a TEDx Talk is, began directing speakers and helping them identify, write, and deliver TEDx Talks. All of a sudden, I have this handful of speakers, nowhere to put them.

The organic next step as a theater producer was to put on a show. I applied for my TEDx license. I went through the entire process with the TED Organization. I received my license for TEDxLincolnSquare, which is the title that I picked in November of 2015. Jamie Broderick, who was my first mentor, said, “How can I help?” I said, “I don’t know but let’s work together.” She became my co-producer. She’s all about marketing strategy. She sold us out for a March event six weeks before the event. That’s how I became a TEDx organizer. I needed a place to put my speakers.

That’s a fantastic story because it ties in the whole background of you being a director and producer and working with all these big names and coming up with your unique expertise, which is helping people craft their message. Ultimately, it led to being very specific with TEDx, now starting TEDxLincolnSquare which is fascinating.

During that process, you worked with Petra and she introduced you to Jamie Broderick, who introduced you to John Lee Dumas, you’ve got on his podcast. Before people started coming to you and saying, “I need help. I want to get on TEDx. You said speakers we’re coming to you,” who are your primary clients? Did you have any clients at that point? Were you still marketing and trying to build the brand?

I was getting clients from word of mouth based on the publicity that I was beginning to do. I started getting out there and speaking, being at events, allowing people to see who I was and how I worked, and because of my unique process, people started coming to me based on referrals or based on conversations we would have about how I feel about this process. The art of public speaking is unique when it comes to a keynote or a TEDx, but the art of shepherding someone to a stage for me is very much the same.

What does that unique process look like? Can you let us in on how do you extract these ideas? I know from experience it’s not easy. You have to work at it.

One thing is if you have a hundred ideas or if you have zero ideas, both of those can cause paralysis. What I do always is what I call an active listening session. Whether you come to me with one idea or 100, I ask you questions about who you are, what’s important to you, why this idea or these hundred ideas are impactful to you, and we spend two hours talking about it. By the time an hour goes by, you’re so exhausted, you break down and you start telling me everything.

That’s where the real magic happens. That’s where I get to see your soul. That’s where I get to go inside of your head and get what’s going on with that idea. An example of this, Joel, is Kristin Smedley who is an incredible TEDx speaker and advocate of retinal disease. She came to me. She’d been speaking for sixteen years about retinal disease because two of her three children were born blind. She was very passionate about wanting to raise awareness and raise money for the foundation to potentially find a cure for this rare eye disorder. We started our first session and we were talking.

Two hours later I said, “Kristin, this talk is not about the disease. This talk is about how you learn to see the world differently through the eyes of your children.” A light bulb went off. It was the first time she realized that she had a global talk. It wasn’t just specifically about this disease. It was an idea that could potentially have a global impact, which was how we see the world can be changed or shifted if we become aware of it. If she was seeing the world through the eyes of her children, she needed to shift that because she was imposing her limitations on them.

That’s a superpower in itself, of being able to actively listen and hear the message behind the message. As experts, we usually fall victim to what I call the experts curses. We know too much and it doesn’t come out like it can to make the biggest impact possible.

You’ve got canned answers and you’ve been saying them for so long and so many times that that’s what you’re saying. I get in there. I get through all of that so we can get to the real heart and soul of what your idea we are spreading is all about.

When did this skill become noticeable for yourself? When did you recognize that you have that specific skill of active listening and transforming the message? Was that after you worked with Petra on her talk or did you know that you had this somewhere else?

This is something that has been part of who I am always whether it’s listening to a friend or a colleague. Honing the skill of being a good listener comes from being a director. If I cannot hear what my actor is saying, I cannot help them have a scene that is truthful and that is important and paramount. I need to be able to hear what you are saying to me and take my ego out of the picture completely.

That basically comes down to the background of you saying leadership is everythingIt’s like, If I can’t hear what you’re saying, I will not be able to lead you properly. In a nutshell, that is what I’m hearing across your entire story. That’s powerful.

Being a leader is putting yourself in the same shoes as who you’re working with. Lolly Daskal talks about this. It comes from within. When I’m leading a group, whether it’s my company, my speakers or my actors, if they know I’m in charge, they feel safe. Just like with kids, they need boundaries. They need to understand that they can be safe within the boundaries you are creating for them.

I love that about you, knowing that you’ve been able to recognize in your own sense that you have that superpower. What I’ve noticed over the course of the past eight years of working with entrepreneurs and experts, so many times people don’t realize what their own superpower is. They think it’s one thing, but it’s something different. Just like what you were talking about with your client with the two children who were born blind. She thought one thing and you’re like, “That’s not the thing. That’s not the big thing that people want to hear and how you can going to make the biggest impact.”

It’s a magical thing. I watched speakers walk onto a stage one-way and offstage another.

When you’re working with your clients and speakers, is there one question that you’ve seen, as you’re going through this active listening session that usually is the light bulb moment when they flip that switch and they start to realize for themselves that their message is transforming? Has there been one powerful question that you’ve seen that happen or no?

The process is the same, but the questions are always different. It’s based on who the speaker is. Once we go through the active listening session, we go into the next phase of my process, which is what I call the blueprint session. In that session, I’ve created a document. I’ve transcribed the active listening session in a way that is understandable. We use that document to create the blueprint and this is where we go even deeper.

We work on 3×5 note cards, the topic on the front based on our active listening document and go deeper on the back. By the time we go through this two or three-hour process, we’ve got 20 or 30 note cards covering a table and then I rearrange them. The first two phases of the process is my heavy lifting. Once I rearrange everything, they have a blueprint in front of them and that’s where their light bulb goes off. They see the potential of their talk. It just came to life and that’s so exciting. I think it happens on our second meeting.

I’m very glad that you said you don’t have any canned questions. That’s what makes us creative. That’s the power of being creative. You want to develop systems. You want to develop processes. When I’m doing these shows and I’m asking questions, I start off with a base, but I don’t want to come out with many canned questions because I want the interview to be fluid and dynamic. I think that’s very powerful.

What you’ve also said was when you put them on the note cards, it’s dissecting the creative process. As speakers and as experts who are trying to craft their own message, it’s all inherent. They can’t see it, but when you get it out and you put it on note cards, they can see it. I’m assuming that it starts to formulate this and they start to see, “Here are the connection pieces. Here’s where the flow is coming from.

They do or they say, “I have no idea what this is. It’s crazy.” That’s where I say, “I know. Let’s trust the process because within my process you have yours,” which is why it’s unique to each speaker. The process has never let me down. Even if the speakers are scared, “What are all these note cards? I have no idea why it’s in this order.” That’s where the trust comes in. If I’ve created that safe space, then they go away and they trust that I’m going to make sure they’re okay and that the process is going to serve them.

We’re very similar in many ways more than you probably know. Tell me where you’re going now. What’s on the horizon for your company?

The Big Talk is producing several documentaries. One is about the chaplain at Rikers Island who is a Buddhist who teaches the correction officers to meditate. Another documentary that we produced This Dinner Is Full is at the New York Independent Film Festival. I’m also creating a masterclass series called The Fearless Speaker. I’m doing another season for The Big Talk season nine, which is going to go into the studio. John Lee Dumas is going to be a guest on my show, which I’m super excited about. Then, we’re going to open up the applications for TEDxLincolnSquare in September. Things are moving.

Can you explain to me the core differences between producing and directing?

The directors work directly with the actors or the speakers. Their main goal is to create a show and making sure that the story is being told and that the story’s being moved forward the entire time. A producer is in charge of all the details that you need to put on a show, space, theater, emails to the cast, sound engineer, technical director and the stage manager. That’s what a producer does. That’s what I do with TEDxLincolnSquare. I am the executive producer and also work with speakers individually to make sure that they feel confident on stage. Jamie is the marketing strategist behind the beast. We are very clear on staying in our own lanes. It’s a beautiful collaboration because of that.

You’ve done both. You’ve done producing and directing. Those are two completely different skill sets. One, you’d be super detailed. The other is very open and yet knowing stories and knowing how to make the message sound clear.

They are very different but the similarities for a successful director is that they’re organized. That is what a producer needs to be. A producer is extremely detailed and organized, but me as a director, I’m still very detailed and organized. That also creates a safe space for the actors. If the director comes in and is all over the place and doesn’t know what’s happening and is chaotic, the actors are terrified. Knowing that they can trust that I’m going to be on a schedule and I’m going to be very detailed and organized, it makes them feel safe.

Tricia, I’ve enjoyed this episode and we talked about a ton. You’re running two very successful companies. You’ve done a number of different things in terms of your performing arts and coming to New York without any security blanket. You knew you didn’t want to be a starving artist. You’re very determined. It’s very clear. Leadership is a very strong quality and that’s apparent through this conversation. I enjoyed how you tied everything together of what makes a successful director and how leadership ties that and being able to listen to the stories and dissect their message so you can make them more impactful and more powerful. Where can we find you? Where can we connect with you?

I would love for your listeners to connect with me at Tricia@TheBigTalkNYC.com. If you want to start the process of writing a big talk, you can download a free e-book called The Art of the Start and you can get that at TheBigTalkNYC.com.

If you’ve enjoyed this episode, please reach out to Tricia. Let her know that you heard this episode, you enjoyed it, give her some love, give her some feedback. Tricia, thanks for being on the show. I’ve enjoyed this. I think that my brain has been churning, as somebody who works with people on their messages on their own, it’s been fascinating to learn from another professional expert in that space. Is there anything that we missed that you want to make sure that we include?

I think we hit everything, Joel. It was a complete pleasure to be with you. Thank you for having me.

About Tricia Brouk

Tricia Brouk draws on experience as a TEDx organizer, a writer, director and choreographer in film, television, and theater to help you bring your life-changing talk into focus. Her unique point of view will get you onto the big stage and guarantee you an unforgettable big talk every time.

I view public speakers through the same lens I do an actor. You have something important to say and it’s my job to help you find the way to say it with truth, confidence, vulnerability, awe, compassion and courage. With the help of my direction and guidance, I’ll bring your life-changing speech into focus, while giving you the unique insight into what makes an unforgettable big talk. I’ll break down your script just like I do with a film or play. I’ll identify the arcs the beats, and if what you are saying is actually what you mean to say. I’ll identify what you need to do for your big talk or your Keynote, as they are very different. Once I do that, we’ll work together on clarifying, specifying and performing your big talk through blocking, repetition, and simple techniques I use with actors.

My goal in the room is to create a safe space so you can drop in. When you are working on the material, I’ll help you find new and interesting ways to communicate your very important talk. Once we find those, together, I will help you maintain the integrity and consistency of the performance so you can be free to talk to the audience, like you’re talking to a friend. I will help illuminate the importance of what you, as a speaker, want to say and how you communicate that information so that your audience leans in.

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