While tackling his fear of public speaking, Corey Poirier’s career could’ve taken a turn for the worst when his stand-up comedy set bombed twice on the same night. Since that night, Corey has built a public speaking empire as the host of top-rated radio shows, featuring multiple TEDx talks and appearances on CBS, NBC, ABC, CTV, and many more television specials, and is one of only a few leaders to be featured on the Entrepreneur on Fire Show – twice.
In today’s episode, Corey gives you insight into how he turned his fear of public speaking into a successful speaking career. Learn all about:
- The importance of having multiple streams of income
- How Corey turned a double-bombed comedy night into a speaking career
- How to determine your worth when charging for your time
- Why you should never underestimate the power of creativity and leverage
- How Corey plans to have multiple successful launches during the pandemic (including bLU Talks!)
- How many eggs are in Corey’s basket? (Answer: all of them)
- The THREE top things Corey has learned from interviewing more than 6,000 high achievers
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SSP041 Conquering Public Speaking with Corey Poirier
I was least likely to get on a stage and speak. Nobody would have ever predicted that in a million years, because I was the guy that would have the sweat coming down his face when he even talked to five people. You hear about a debilitating fear. It was my number one fear, above death, probably…
You’re listening to Corey Poirier, who overcame a truly rough start in public speaking to become an in-demand keynote and multiple-time TedX speaker and now founder of the upstart bLU Talks platform for speakers, authors and influencers. If you’re thinking to yourself, “there’s no way I could be a public speaker” – or you simply want to get better at your craft – listen up because Corey is today’s guest on Solopreneur Success.
Narrator: Welcome to the Solopreneur Success podcast, where successful business owners gather to share true stories and sound advice to help you start and grow your own solopreneur business. Come soar with us and design the life you love. Now, here’s your host, Steve Coombes.
Hello, solopreneurs. Today, I’m interviewing popular speaker, influencer, and bestselling author, Corey Poirier.
One thing I found Corey and I have in common is we both enjoy interviewing other people, though Corey has interviewed a lot more people than I have. We’re definitely going to have to talk about that, and we’re going to talk about a lot of other things, including his new book and another special project he has going on. Corey, welcome to the show today.
Thank you so much, Steve. I am super, for lack of a better word, stoked to be here.
Awesome. Corey, one of my first questions for you today, this has been in my head all day long is: you’re an in-demand speaker, you’ve spoken multiple times on TEDx, you’ve been featured numerous times on TV, some of the top business podcast in the world, like Entrepreneurs On Fire, for example. All these different things you have going on – speaker, bestselling author, podcast host of great podcasts, you have your fingers in a lot of different pies. So, when somebody says, “Cory, what do you do?” You introduce yourself to somebody, what do you say?
So, if I go back to what I originally said- a great example is, what do you put on a form? Like, if somebody says, “what do you do for a career? I always said, “keynote speaker.” So, first and foremost, I feel that was my starting ground and it’s still what I identify with the most is, I’m a professional and paid speaker, and I take a lot of pride in being a paid speaker, because it’s not that there’s anything wrong with not being a paid speaker, but there’s not as many of us as I thought there was at one point. So, I take pride in the fact that I’ve been able to actually make a living as a paid speaker for as many years I have, but I’ve always juggled something else. A friend of mine has a show called The Side Hustle. I think his community’s called Side Hustle Nation. His name is Nick Loper, to give him a shout out. Nick is always talking about having a side hustle, and I think I realized early on, Steve, that, especially as a speaker, where there’s so much unpredictability, that it was important to have some sort of side hustle. So, I’ve always had something on the side of. But it’s like when you go to eat a meal – you eat the main meal, like the steak or the burger, that’s your meal. The fries just come on the side. So, all these other things, I love them with all my heart, but they’re all the side hustles versus the speaking being the core hustle.
Yeah, that makes sense. I’ve heard a podcast before too, a couple times at least, for sure, I’ve listened to it. I’m going to say this to our audience, is that what Corey saying here, this makes total sense, it’s always good to have multiple streams of income. That’s what we’re really talking about here is multiple streams of income because, where we’re at right now, we’re in the middle of Covid, and that kind of turn things upside down, especially in the speaker’s world, I’m also a member of the National Speakers Association, and everybody, overnight, it seemed like all these events were cancelled. What do you do? Well, you pivot. One thing I noticed that Corey did, early on I saw, back in March, when I just got started, he’s already talking about pivoting right the very beginning of this whole thing, and he was waiting to get on the train, he was actually pulling the train along with what he was suggesting people do – get on virtual, and he was doing that, and we’re going to talk about that a little bit. I’m just curious, though, how did you get into speaking, specifically? What led you down that path?
I always tell people it was a happy accident. It wasn’t a planned destination, by any stretch. So much so that, whenever I was younger, and it’s funny now, with all of us dealing with Covid, and not being able to travel as much, I’m actually in the hometown where I grew up. When I grew up here, I was least likely to get on a stage and speak. Nobody would have ever predicted that in a million years, because I was the guy that would have the sweat coming down his face when he even talked to five people. You hear about a debilitating fear. It was my number one fear, above death, probably, as they say. So, I spoke three times my life where I was forced to – one was in a program I was in, and if I wanted to pass, it was an entrepreneurial program, and they actually gave us seed money to start a business, so if I want the seed money, I had to actually get up and speak. Then, another time was in high school. Then the third one was a local group asked if I would get up and talk about difficulties that young entrepreneurs face, and I was passionate about helping young entrepreneurs. So, that was the only one I truly went up on my own choosing, and I changed multiple shades of colour, I don’t remember a word of what I said, I didn’t prepare. I asked somebody later on, “what did I say?”, and he said, “I have no idea, but you’re so excited saying it, you sold me.” So, I knew I was passionate, and I understood, later on, how important passion is as a speaker.
Having said all that, ultimately, that was my life and speaking until I was mid-20s. Then, what happened was, in my mid-20s, I was living in one part of the country, and I moved to another part, and I started writing. I wrote a stage play for a festival, and one of the actors, the lead actor, had most of the words and he sprained his ankle, on the way to the show one day, halfway through our seven-night run. Hey, props to him, he still did the whole play with a sprained ankle. It was almost broken, but what I had to do then was I had to write a new part, because I needed to buy him more time to get backstage for his costume changes. So, I wrote a part, and I knew that nobody else knew the lines, except for me. It wasn’t fair to put other lines on the other actors, so I had to, all of a sudden, as the guy who’s terrified of speaking, write myself a part where I’d have to buy time in front of an audience. So, I cleverly (I think it was clever) wrote the part where I could walk with my back to the audience wearing a wig. So, I didn’t look at any members of the audience, but streams of sweat we’re still coming down my face, I was wearing a wrestling t shirt, I didn’t want to be identified.
I asked one of the actors at the end of the seven days, “how can I get over this fear?” and he said, “I don’t know if this is the answer, but I’m attending a stand-up comedy workshop at the local university, and I think stand-up comedy would get you over it pretty quick.” I was like, “well, I don’t know if I want to do stand-up if I’m terrified of speaking, but I can go to a workshop and learn about stand up. That sounds exciting.” So, I went to a two-week workshop, learned about stand up. Week number three, we were going to go to a comedy club and we invited people, and we’re just going to go watch comics and study them, and talk about it afterwards. That was like the last week of the course.
Anyway, we got there, we had all paid for the course, there were 15 of us. The guy that ran the show, he told us, about five minutes to showtime, that we were the entertainers. So, he had booked us to be the performers, but didn’t tell a soul. So, five minutes’ notice zero, material – I was going say “this much material”, but if you’re listening on audio, you can’t see this. Zero material, and I ran to the bathroom to try to find an exit window to jump down from and I came back in, because there was no exit window, and eight of the people that came there that night, who paid to be in the workshop, had walked out the front door.
So, there are only seven left, and the decision is, “am I going to do this or am I going to walk out the front door too?” and I saw this little vision of me sitting at the bar. Looking up to the stage is an old man, and I looked nothing like what I already do now, so I know I didn’t look like I look. I envisioned myself as an old man, like, you know you see people are playing themselves older and all they do is put on a grey wig and grey beard or something – that’s what it was. It wasn’t like what I actually would look like. I saw myself looking at the stage next to another old guy going, “you know what, I was going to do that stand-up thing one night, but I didn’t bother”, and regretting it. I didn’t want to have that regret, so I stayed.
We debated who was going to go up first, for about 10 minutes, and then I jumped on the stage, grabbed the mic, took it out of the stand, jumped into my first joke. So, I was the first guy on stage, told the joke to dead silence. No laughter at all. That’s worse than somebody heckling you. Well, then I told the second joke because, I figured, I’m already on the stage. This time I didn’t just get that silence. I think I saw a tumbleweed go by. Sweat’s coming down, I’m just a mess. Finally, Guy, the guy that got us into this, his name is Guy, calls me over to the corner of stage, gives me a schmuck in the back of the head, and says, “you idiot. We haven’t even turned the mic on yet.”
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