How do you get your message across? How do you go about sharing it? In this episode, we answer these questions as our host, Penny Zenker, sits down for a conversation with HSE Professional and Public Speaker, Sean Taylor Foley. Sean tackles the techniques of sharing your message and discusses health, safety, and efficiency in the workplace. A great place to start your journey in learning to share your message. Jump right in as you follow Sean’s wisdom to help support your business and grow.
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The Naked Truth: Talking Business Support, Work Efficiency, And Sharing Your Message With Sean Tyler Foley
I’m excited to talk with Sean Tyler Foley. He’s an actor and has been acting in films and television since he was six years old. He’s also an accomplished film and stage performer. He’s done productions, including Freddy vs. Jason, Door to Door, Carrie and the musical Ragtime. He’s also passionate about helping others to confidently take the stage and really impact an audience with their stories. He’s currently the Managing Director of Total Buy In and author of the number one bestselling book, The Power to Speak Naked. I want to talk about that. That would be fun. Get out there and be naked. I hope that means being vulnerable and not actually taking off all your clothes.
Tyler, welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me, Penny. Truth be known, it’s a multi-pronged title but you are correct. The main source of that is to be vulnerable and share your raw naked truth. In all honesty, if I could empower people to feel that their message was important enough, they could speak it, be engaging and engrossing for their audience. Didn’t matter what they were wearing. If they could get away with a new joke, I wouldn’t be upset.
Is that like the end game? If you are training someone, they have to get up, stand there naked and engage people that they are not paying attention to the fact that they are naked.
The end goal is to have them that entertaining, that empowered. They could if they wanted to. It’s never a thing that I would push on somebody. That said, I have been challenged. I’ve got heckled in an audience once. Where a gentleman would not cease and desist with his, “Naked boy, take off your clothes.” heckling. Years of theater training, many years of experience came into play and I answered the call. I said, “If you really need to see me strip down naked. I can’t do it now. It’s not because I don’t want to. It’s because I’m definitely going to get in a lot of trouble from various legal authorities if I just stripped down naked on this. I am willing to come back here next week.”
I always book a venue for two, for insurance, just in case. We had the venue booked for when I was performing and we had it the week later. I said, “If you are willing to put your money where your mouth is, support a good cause and if everybody in this auditorium agrees to pay four times the ticket price that they paid to come back here because Tyler doesn’t get naked for free, I will redo this 45-minute talk for you, sands clothes, and we will donate all the proceeds to the local charity.” We supported the food bank and that was a fun thing to do. The dude never even showed up. That was the great thing. I made everybody pay upfront so that I could pay all the lawyers, insurance folks and the venue to figure out what needed to be in place. A lot of people showed back up. I think about 80% of the people did actually come because they paid for the ticket and see the freak show.
I think that’s an interesting demonstration of what you are teaching. It’s to see if he can really do it in the context of, as you said, be entertaining enough and engaging enough that in a very short time, nobody is even paying attention to that.
I think it was more awkward for the audience at first than it was for me. I don’t care. I was happy to do it. Mind you, I cranked the heat in the room to make it a little bit more comfortable from a walk. That was it. It was a little bit weird for them because at first, they were like, “This is actually happening. He didn’t lie.” It wasn’t like it was a burlesque tease or anything. It was The Power to Speak Naked. I was going to give the 45 minutes. It was a great exercise to show that I can put my money where my mouth is. I’m willing to do it. I believe that people don’t have to do that. I want them to have the strength and the courage in their message. It doesn’t matter what you are wearing. It doesn’t matter if you have a PowerPoint or a presentation and the gimmicks as long as you can be authentic with your message and truly believe in your message. All the rest of it is superfluous. You can go about with your business and do it. It was a fun thing to do. Any charity that needs to raise it, I would do it again. I’m not doing it unless the money is going to a good cause because it’s cold.
I’m the Focusologist. My mind is thinking about how interesting we could shift that conversation. You talked about the heckler who is out there or what we are wearing. All the things that might distract us from the thing it is that we are doing. The focus, the goal that we want to achieve. I think that’s a great introduction to talk about some aspects of time management, reaching goals and being productive. Everybody has distractions in whatever it is their business is. Those hecklers come in different forms and look like different things in our lives. They could be kids, colleagues, clients, the weather or various things that get in the way and distract us. In that context, you talked about, “We are in an environment where things are opening up.” You are juggling multiple types of businesses. One was put on hold and the other one is building up. A lot of people have a lot of challenges as they pivoted. Now, they are needing to pivot again. I wanted to talk a little bit about your experience with that. What are some of the things that are working? What’s not working? See what comes up in that discussion that might support some people in the same position.
One of the things that I’m most thankful for is the number of people who have started to work virtually. The prevalence of virtual assistants and their ability to take on some workload. It’s exactly what you said. A lot of us, myself included, pivoted in this time. For me, it wasn’t much of a pivot. It’s so much as a redirecting of focused energy. I have always had these various prongs within the business. Total Buy In started as a safety consulting business and specialized primarily in health and safety audits of people’s safety programs. It’s s great work to do but it does not fulfill me in any way. Where I’ve got the most satisfaction in that was when we started focusing on safety training and being able to help people understand their safety programs.
I would approach a lot of businesses from a self-development standpoint. You, being in the world, understand what I’m talking about. For me, corporations are people too. I wanted to take that to the extreme level. What are a corporation’s actual true values? What are their priorities? What is the mindset of this entity that is a living breathing thing? Start to say, “If these are where your value sets are and these are your highest values, that’s going to dictate through the rest of you. Let’s make sure that you are training all of your focus goes to that and getting people really in touch with what their business was supposed to be.” That translated into really good safety systems and people enjoyed the training.
Eventually, I realized that the safety training, where I was most effective was in training on communication. That’s where, now, we’ve got the whole other wing with The Power to Speak Naked, the Power of Influence, The Method, and Drop the Mic and all of the programs that I have developed around public speaking. It’s not so that people can go up and be the next Tony Robbins. You and I both know the big man. No one is going to be the next Tony Robbins. I want people to be the first them. My training is not for people to get up onto those big stages that people like Tony, Les Brown and all of those types are on those big platforms. This is for the boardroom folks.
Be up at the stage. Even if you are a parent, you’ve got a stage. You’ve got your family. I think we need to be understanding. As you said, it’s about communication. Your stage can just look different. As I said, our distractions look different or our stages look different.
Everybody was having to get on Zoom. It became this natural thing where my training shifted to show people how to look good on camera and how to be more engaging because it is harder. It’s one thing to be in person. You can be flamboyant, articulate and have a message but when you have to keep the entertainment, the focus of a group and you are this one little square in a box at 40 or even if you get people to flip the views, you are still this big on their monitor. They have their entire life around them trying to make that a more engaging experience for people and show them how to do it. I still think I come across well on camera guy. I have been doing this long enough. I was doing virtual training before virtual training was a thing, which was great for me. To show people how to do what I do was a gift. That became my center focus. The nice thing was the safety audits became virtual. The workload of doing a safety audit got cut down by almost 80%. The revenue also got cut down by almost 80%. It was one of those things where it got passed off to the team and I kept the people employed that I could keep employed by having them take on that workload so that I could focus solely on the virtual training.
If there are speakers who are out there reading, other consultants and service providers, I have heard a lot of people say and this was a big question at the beginning of the pandemic, how do you charge for virtual versus in person? You said that the revenue went down by 80%. Why is that? I did not find that revenues went down.As long as you can be authentic with your message and truly believe in it, all the rest is superfluous. Click To Tweet
The revenue went down for the audits or the safety audits. The reason for that is the safety audits are conducted based on a standard. You don’t just go in and go, “I know you like it. You come up with your own tool.” The tool is already there, whether people are using an ISO standard, the 45,001 standard or 18,001 previously where I am. Regionally, there’s a thing called the Core Program. There are twelve certifying partners in my company audits for 7 of the 12 certifying partners. What happened was there are three methods of evaluating a program. That is through documentation review, observation tours and interviews. When everybody is working from home, you are not doing observation tours and you are not doing interviews. The observations and interviews made up approximately 75% to 80% of the audit process. If you are not going to do those two things, I can’t ethically charge. I charge on a day rate. If it’s only going to take me three days instead of these eighteen days that it used to, I’m only going to charge for the three days. In that scenario, the revenue went down but my speaking fees didn’t change.
Let’s talk about that. There are a lot of people who said, “I can’t charge the same amount for my fees and service fees as well.” I’m a coach. My question is, why not? Your expertise is at the same level and you are delivering the same. If you are somebody who can show up in a positive, impactful way online or onstage, why does your value change? I just wanted to get your feedback on that. A few tips that might help people in the business as they are doing both or they made the mistake and lowered their rates. How can they approach this so that they are not giving away money?
First of all, if they did it due to the pandemic, they needed to be very clear on all of their contracts. For me, with the audits, I stated very clearly that we were doing this on a contract basis, instead of on a day rate, that was based on a severe reduction in the requirements of the audit process and the following year, this would be what the amount would be. I would put very clearly on it that it was a one-time, not that it was a discounted rate, exemption from the regular fee schedule because of the extenuating circumstances. If people weren’t doing that upfront, they are going to have to be doing a lot of PR and backend explaining of, “This was a one-time correction to help out.” I did for a few long-term clients who genuinely were struggling, give them a reduction in fees and the ability to offset to another year to help them with their cashflow and their cash management. Being somebody understanding within the business world, we don’t know where we were at. I did allow for that.
When it came to the training, my intellectual property, as you said, there was always value there. It didn’t change. The majority of what I was doing was already being able to be provided virtually. Frankly, I show up better. That’s the other thing. If somebody was thinking to themselves, “I can’t charge this much as a speaker now that I’m doing it from my apartment.” Set up your apartment better. One of the things that I loved when all the theaters got shut down, I was suddenly able to get theater space that would normally cost me anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000 for a day booking. I was getting them for $300 a day and full access with no interruptions. For a lot of the training that I would do, I would rent out a theater. I was able to do it and do the social distancing. I was able to have access to really good Wi-Fi because nobody was at these places so nobody was draining it. I had better signal in some of these theaters than I would at my own house. I made sure that I was providing the value for the service fee that I was charging. Look at how much I was saving. I was renting out a theater to be able to give a virtual presentation and give it the gravitas that it deserved.
Even my office, I’ve got it set up. I’ve got full production stage lighting. It didn’t cost much to do this. If you are a professional speaker and you are charging X number of fees, you should be able to reinvest in yourself. If you are worth that fee, you should be able to get this gear. It doesn’t cost much to be able to make it look professional. I was saving on flights and hotels. To me, I was like, “I would normally have spent X number of dollars to go to two of these venues. How can I duplicate it for them with that?” That was already worked into the budget. For the few people who are like, “We need to defer because we can’t afford those.” I was like, “I understand. Call me back when things open up.”
For everybody else was willing to do it, I made sure that what I was giving was of the highest quality and the highest value. In fact, it exploded because I put the time and effort in. Now, my calendar is booked. You and I were talking that my challenge now is juggling all the people who did defer and agreed to have me back now that the border is about to open. I’m in Canada. All these US bookings that I had deferred for 12 to 18 months are like, “September 2021, you are good to come down.” I’m trying to now fit that back in. As I said, I wasn’t in a pivot. The energy focus was one way. Now, I’ve got to retrain that laser and it’s here. It’s finding the power. I’m throttling up different engines at this point and trying to keep this aircraft flying.
What are three things that our guests could take away tips, tricks, tools and hacks that they could put into place that would help them with the same challenge? They have focused their energy in one area and they are seeing results but now they are seeing that there’s too much.
I think the first one that has been helpful for me is, what is the end game? You have to know what that end target is. Your audience doesn’t know so let’s tell your audience. For me, the focus is really pushing the online training. It was something that we had geared up since 2020. We were supposed to do a huge International Tour with the training sessions, seminars and workshops. That obviously got put on hold. That is revenue-generating. That was not only my focus, what I wanted to do and get done but that’s also where the majority of the revenue is being generated. It’s like that Venn diagram. What is the end goal? On top of that, what is revenue-generating? Where did the two intersect? That’s where I need to focus my energy.
I’m lucky that all of these speaking engagements are further pushing book sales, tickets to the courses, tickets to the workshops and enrollment in the online courses. All of these efforts are feeding it and everything else, particularly on the safety side of my business. We’ve got the auditors that are trained. I’ve got a great team that can take it. It’s basically self-sufficient. Now, I just need to do a pulse check once a month, maybe and say, “Where are we at? What other supports do I need to offer as the head of this company? How do I need to support you? What do you need to keep this going so that I don’t need to be here?” That is surrounding myself with a good team. I have team members that I can trust.
You mentioned taking advantage of virtual assistance. For people who are reading, the first thing you said is get really crystal clear on what the goal is and make sure that you are focused on the 20% that makes 80% of the difference. It’s what’s driving the results of the business. Surround yourself so that you can get the other things done with a great team. That could be somebody that you hire full-time. If you only need part-time and you only need certain tasks, you can definitely leverage virtual assistants. I have upped my number of virtual assistants doing different things for me. It takes a lot of burden off you so that you can focus your energy on the most important things.
Vetting the VA’s too. There was an interesting thing that happened a few years ago where VA started to become really popular. I don’t know if it was because Tim Ferris published The 4-Hour Workweek or what it was. All of a sudden, there was not only an explosion of the use and taking advantage of the ability to have virtual assistants but the prevalence of the various companies that offered those services. I think people forgot that you are still employing somebody. You need to hire for fit. Don’t be afraid to go to various companies and ask them for a trial or interview, check and test. One of the things that have made my organization as successful as it is that I hire for fit. My hiring process is bizarre. One of the first things I will ask is, what are people’s favorite musical tastes?
Does it get to fit your musical taste for them to work for you? That’s bizarre.
When the office is open and I’m there, I blare show tunes and sing them at the top of my lungs because that’s part of my preparation. It’s part of my practice. Sometimes, I’m actually rehearsing for a show. If people don’t like musicals, they are not going to like working at my office. It doesn’t mean that they won’t necessarily fit in or would be a good employee but if they are the ideal candidate, I need to know how to identify them. As weird as it is, it’s one of the questions. What’s your favorite musical genre?
We have our own weird questions. Nobody is going to take yours. If you are reading and looking to hire somebody, you definitely need to hire for fit to understand. What I find also is that people don’t recognize that you have to have a clear idea of what it is that you want to accomplish. You can’t just hire somebody and say, “You are in charge of X. They don’t know what it is that you want to accomplish.” I think it’s also that. They need to know how to hire. They need to first get clear on what it is they are really looking to achieve. How that person is going to and what you are going to need them to do to make that happen.
Any organization is going to be a reflection of the person or the people that have put it together. I go back to the coaching companies as individuals like using self-help. They have the self-awareness to know who you are and what your organization does. That’s the other thing, too. I’m a friendly organization. I want to think that I am a supportive and encouraging one. Any of the people that I hire have to have this attitude of can-do. I need to have people who are definitely independent thinkers. As much as I teach and practice communication skills, you ask anybody who works with me. Sometimes, I have an absolutely horrible and God-awful ability to actually communicate what it is that I need. I feel the worst for my web designer. Tracy is a saint among saints because I will be like, “I don’t like that.” She will show me a couple of mock-ups and I will be like, “I don’t like that.” She goes, “What do you like?” I said, “I don’t know but I know I don’t like that.”
For people to be able to interpret the brain that is Tyler Foley, cannot be easy. That’s again, I have a great team that I have put together. They understand my idiosyncrasies and they are smarter than me. I was smart enough to hire people smarter than me who have their own levels of genius who I can now defer to and be like, “You tell me. Let’s test it out.” That’s the other thing too. I’m not somebody who tells somebody what road to drive on. I know what the end destination is. If I need to get to Tallahassee, I could put it into the GPS. I can say, “I’m starting here and I need to get there.” I don’t care what roads you take. Do you want to take I-95? Great. Do you want to take a couple of Backcountry Roads because they are scenic and you will be inspired? You do that. I don’t care the road you take as long as we get to Tallahassee. I don’t care if we take it in a car, helicopter, plane or boat. You get me there.Any organization will be a reflection of the person who has put it together or the people who have put it together. Click To Tweet
That’s an important thing for people who are reading. The pandemic, especially, amplified our dysfunctions. A lot of people who were, let’s say, on the borderline of control freaks or micromanagers, when people would move out of the office, they’ve got this feeling of, “I need to control.” They needed to have more of in the process, the way that they did it and how they were going to get to that place. I think the most successful people are typically the ones that can scale and grow their business and the ones like you are saying, give people the freedom and flexibility to bring in their genius and their creativity to get to that end result. What’s a tip that you could give people that allows you to have confidence in the people that you are working with and give them that autonomy? What’s something that they could practice that would help them with that?
Start with a small task. A small task that you don’t have a preconceived notion on how needs to be finished. Something that is genuinely outside of your sphere of comprehension that however they come up with it is obviously the way because you didn’t know how to do it. Start with those to release some of that control. Part of that is to be able to acknowledge that you don’t know how to do it. I don’t know the first thing about web design. “Tracy, you tell me.” I know what I don’t like visually because I have been in the arts for years. I also know how I innately respond to things. I look at a website and I go, “I’m too busy or too plain. I don’t like it.” It’s the same way that I would walk through the loop. There are pieces of art that are going to speak to me and there are pieces of art that don’t. I will be like, “No, I don’t like that one.” I would say start with those small tasks. The things that don’t matter.
I think that’s a key too. It’s something that doesn’t matter and you said something that you don’t have to do. With those two things in that way, you can set the goal and forget it until they come back to you or until the date that you organize. Maybe the last thing is to set a deadline.
Have some critical analysis. Did they give you the deliverable that you wanted? Have that discussion back and forth. If you want to go one level further, be open to critical feedback. Ask them when they are done with the task. Did I provide enough direction for you to be able to do this effectively? Was there anything that I could have provided that would have helped you get this done quicker? Some of those questions will help you further give them more responsibility in a way that will set them up for success. It’s like any other training scenario. You slowly open up the boundaries until somebody can go free-range and know that they are always going to come back to the ranch house.
Thank you so much. We are coming to the end of our time for the show. I just want to ask you a couple of quick questions and then people can find out where they can best reach you. I ask everybody this question because I love the variant of answers. What is your definition of productivity and why?
My definition of productivity would be entropy, actually. What I mean by that is how efficient is the process. That doesn’t necessarily mean quickest. What I mean by efficient is there is going to be that Kaizen point where you have reached optimally. If you went any faster, you would start to decrease quality. If you went any slower, you are wasting time. When you can find that optimal, that is my idea of productivity where you have reached the optimal efficiency within the system. You have minimized entropy or energy loss. That’s typically how I define my own productivity and subsequently, my success.
Do you have a process for finding that point?When you can find that Kaizen, that optimal, that is productivity, you have reached optimal efficiency within the system. Click To Tweet
Pushing it. AB testing. If I go a little bit faster, do I maintain the quality? I learned this in hockey. I was a goaltender. I would skate with all of the rest of the players and I would keep up. When I would strip off the pads, I was 15% faster. I could skate faster. I had to get to their pace using the gear and being encumbered a little bit more. Now, you see these kids all the time. They’ve got the parachutes on their backpacks. They are skating with resistance and pushing their limits. It’s only by pushing your limit that you can find out if it’s too much or you were actually able to do 10%, 15%, 20% more.
It always comes back to what is the end goal. What is the desired outcome? Do I need to do it faster? That’s another question that I like to ask. Do I need to do it cheaper? Do I need to do it? I’m constantly asking that. That’s because I’m a big fan of Michael Crichton and Jurassic Park. Scientists were so preoccupied with, whether or not they could. They didn’t stop to ask if we should. That stuck with me for as long as I first read that book and when I first saw the movie.
Is there anything that we missed that you really wanted to share with the group that you wanted to bring to us now?
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and ask for it, especially now. I think one of the nice things that have happened in 2020 is that, as much as there have been some divisions in thought, there’s also been a coming together of resources and people wanting to share. Find your community that will be able to help you. If anybody is finding value in what you are doing, one of the things that I would ask for people to do is, hit pause on whatever device, whatever they are listening to, whatever platform they have this on. If they are getting value out of Take Back Time, I know the amount of effort that goes into producing these shows. I’m lucky because I’m a guest. I don’t have the encumbrance of a host and having to do everything. I get to show up and be pretty, talk and walk on my way.
You have to actually do this. If people are getting value from what you are doing, I would ask them to hit pause and give this a five-star review on whatever platform. If they have the option, click the automatic download so that they don’t even have to think about it in the content that you are producing can just come to them. If they could do me that favor, if they give you a five-star review, they can come over to my website, which is SeanTylerFoley.com and I will give them a free download of the method, which is Five Insider Secrets I have learned over the years of public speaking. It’s my gift to them. Only if they take the time to Take Back Time and give this a five-star review.
By getting your Five Insider Secrets, they are going to take back time. It’s going to help them to be more strategic in how they go about managing their stages.
It accelerates their learning curve. If anybody wants any more information, that it’s all on the website. I can’t thank you enough for having me on the show. I listen regularly because you’ve got such good tips and tricks. I love coming on and learning what I learn every time I get to listen. To be a guest on this was a great honor. I appreciate it. Thank you, Penny.
Thank you, Tyler. Thanks for being here. Great tips and conversation. I loved it. I hope you all loved it too. As you know, we are here every week. We are putting together, as Tyler said, it’s hard finding great guests for you, guys. I do it because I love you. I love the fact that you are reading, taking notes and interested in really thinking, acting and being more strategic in everything that you do. Check us out next time and make sure you subscribe. As Tyler said if you wanted to. I would love it if you would leave a review. We will see you guys in the next episode.
About Sean Tyler Foley
Tyler is a confident, proactive, adaptive, direct, and conscientious HSE Professional who leads by example. He has the ability to compile and analyze information effectively and communicate the findings throughout an organization and is able to provide interpretation, advice, and guidance on all HSE management-related matters.
He has a proven record of working in highly pressurized situations and demanding environments while using several bespoke methods in leading, mentoring and managing a range of people and workforces.
He has a deep understanding of Health and Safety management law, policy and regulations, safety management, incident and accident investigation, safety inspection and audits and risk assessments. He is an accomplished relationship builder with success in forming strong, sustainable relationships and securing consensus among cross-functional team members for key initiatives.
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