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Becoming a Better Storyteller with Mike Ganino

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Hey there it’s episode 105 of the Katie Lance podcast. And in this podcast episode, we have a really special episode for you here today. I had the pleasure of interviewing my dear friend, Mike Ganino. Now back in the day, Mike was one of our early Get Social Smart Academy members. And since then he has gone on to do some amazing things. He’s an incredible public speaker, author, dad, and so much more. And in this episode, Mike gave us some really great tips on public speaking and how to build your confidence on camera. So whether you’re a speaker, whether you are just trying to get better about the next time you have to hop on a zoom call, I know you’re going to get some great tips. We also talked about storytelling, which is such a buzzword, as we all know, but so many of you tune into our podcast to get some content ideas and some ideas on how to do better on social media, how to rise above the noise and storytelling.

You guys is a huge piece of this, especially if you’re in real estate. I know you’re going to love that part of today’s episode. And then lastly, Mike was so generous. He shared some really great insight into just who he is personally. He’s part of the LGBTQ community. He’s a new dad. And so we talked a little bit about what that was like, you know, becoming a parent during the pandemic, we talked about standing up for what you believe in being true to yourself. And it’s such a lovely conversation, and he really provided some great insights for any of us who might struggle with some of that and where, where that falls in our life personally and professionally. So it’s a great episode. I absolutely love this interview. I’m so grateful for Mike that he shared his time with us today. So sit back, relax. Let’s get on with the show.

You’re listening to the Katie Lance podcast. If you’re an entrepreneur, social media geek, real estate pro, a mom, or maybe all of the above and ready to level up your social media game, you’re in the right place.

Welcome to the Katie Lance podcast. I am so excited for our conversation today, guys, we have a really great conversation lined up with a dear friend of mine. Mike Ganino is someone that I have known for many, many years. He is one of our original Get Social Smart Academy members. That’s how we first connected. And over the years, his career has just blossomed. And it’s so exciting to talk to him today. For those of you who don’t know, Mike, Mike Ganino is a storyteller and a communication expert who hosts the Mike Drop Moment podcast. He’s also been named a top 10 public speaking coach by Yahoo finance and California’s best speaking and communication coach by corporate vision magazine. He’s an author former executive producer of TEDx Cambridge, and has been named a top 30 speaker by global guru. He teaches storytelling presence and public speaking to some of the biggest names and brand. He’s also a trained actor and coach from the world. Second city improv Olympics and upright citizens brigade. And in addition to his track record as an executive in the hotel restaurant, retail and tech industries, Mike has worked with organizations like Disney, American century investments, American marketing association, and UCLA. Welcome to the show.

Thank you for having me. I always, I always feel at the beginning of these shows when people are so kind to, to, uh, say your bio and read about you. I always think it’s funny to sit on the other side and be like, Oh little old me, even though I know everyone listening is like, I know that my gave you those words to read. Uh, but thank you for that. The most important part of that intro was the beginning, because I’m just, I’m so glad that you’re my friend and I’ve just so enjoyed our friendship. So I’m so thrilled. You asked me to be here.

Oh, thank you. Absolutely. I feel the same way often, you know, oftentimes I sit on podcasts too, and it’s like, wow, listen to that. And you know, yes, we did write our own bios, but it’s all good, but I’m so happy to have you here today. Um, and, and you are a dear friend. That’s one of the things I love about this podcast is I’m able to, to bring on some of my towns did and dear friends and, and just have a great conversation. And you know, today we’re going to talk a lot about a lot of different things that a lot of things that we’re going to cover today. So I’m excited for you to be here. And, uh, are you ready? Are you ready to dive in?

I’m ready. Let’s do this. Let’s uh, let’s share some, some love with the world.

Okay, perfect. So for those of you who don’t know you, I would love if you just tell our audience a little bit about your backstory, how you got to where you are today. Uh, just anything you’d like to share.

I am one of those people that if you’re, if you’re listening out there and your I’m glad we finally have a title, those multi-passionate people, I feel like in the last few years, calling yourself a multi-passionate entrepreneur, multi-passionate a real estate professional has become an okay thing to do. And I am like a poster child that it is totally okay to do. I, uh, I started my journey professionally as a flight attendant and then nine 11 happened and I couldn’t do that anymore. And I started acting and like most actors, I ended up, uh, working in restaurants. And then I spent most of my adult career in the restaurant industry. And along the way, I had this, this thing that happened where I became responsible for opening new restaurants, I was part of this growing chain called Potbelly sandwich shop. And I started when they had like seven locations and I got kind of tapped to help open new markets and grow.

And what I saw over and over was that you could have all these same rules and you could have all these same systems, but it felt really different in every location. Uh, and I thought, well, why is that? If we have the same rules, the same policies, why is it so different? And I recognized that it was all about the way that people communicated, the way the leaders spoke, the way the leader shared the way they talked about things. And that really left this big impression on me. And so years later after I had gone on to several other restaurants and sold one that I was a partner in, I moved to LA, I initially thought I was going to become like a TV star. I thought you just walked along sunset Boulevard until someone said, you should be a star kid. Uh, that’s not how it worked.

Um, and I fell in love with this idea of like somehow doing a reality show. And I thought my fastest way to doing a reality show would be real estate. I don’t know why I thought that, but I was like, I’m going to become a Hollywood real estate agent. And that’s how I met you initially, because I thought, well, how do I, how do I do social in a way that’s not slimy and gross? And so I found Katie because that’s, if I was to say like, who does this the best and most honest way, it’s Katie. And so that’s how I found you initially. And then I didn’t last very long in real estate because I kept wanting just to like help people. I started helping people with their listing presentations. I started helping people with their, uh, with their open houses of how to communicate better, how to be a better kind of public speaker in a way.

And that started getting me consulting gigs. And I started working with different brokers here in Los Angeles, different agents, uh, and then moved on to doing public speaking, public speaking training full time. And I’ve always just, you know, I think from a young age, I was like a kid who grew up in a, in a trailer park and with teen parents. And I realized really early on that if we are going to it, and there’s all kinds of things that kind of stop people from roadblocks that get in people’s way. But if we’re going to ever get ourselves out of our situation or into a new place, it’s going to be because of the words we say and the presence we have. And so that’s what I do now. I help people with the words they say and the presence they have, whether it’s on camera or on stage, or just in someone’s living room, talking to them about, uh, about their home and their goals with that. So that’s, that’s what I do now.

I love that. And what a journey, you know, from, uh, just all the different pieces of your life, and I’d love it. You said about, uh, becoming a reality TV show, TV show, a person, and perhaps the quickest path to that was, was being a real estate agent. I, that makes sense.

Yeah. Yeah. So I can tell you all, if you want to be a reality star, real estate might not be the fastest way there. Probably not though.

Well, and I love what you said about, you know, the, the words, the words that matter, right? And you are, you are such a great speaker by the way, anyone listening like shameless plug for Mike, if you need a speaker at your upcoming events, please reach out to Mike. He is amazing. I have a, I’ve seen you on stage many, many times, and I know you have been so generous to coach me a few times. And we’ve talked about speaking over the years, um, for, for folks who are listening, can you share a few tips for people who want to hone their craft? I would imagine there’s some folks who might already be doing some speaking, or maybe they want to get into speaking. Um, I would love to, but for you to just share a couple of your, of your tips, that you might have,

One of the, one of the big things I think we, we kind of put to the side is that the, and this happened recently, I was in a Facebook group and somebody was asking for feedback about her, you know, her webinar that she was going to do. And so I shared it. I typically try not to, because it’s like, I don’t want to be the guy that comes to the party is like, let me give you tips on your presentation because, you know, unless somebody asks or less, somebody wants to work with me than otherwise. I just celebrate them. And it’s like, wow, brave of you to even get up and say something, because that is hard enough in this world to stand up and say something. So she asked for advice. And so I shared a couple of tips and she responded and said, well, you know, I don’t want to do those things.

You said, cause I’m not trying to be a public speaker. And I thought, Oh, that’s on me. I misrepresented what I was talking about because we’re all public speaking all the time. Like when we go into a coffee and you know, that moment, when you go into a coffee shop and they ask your name and you’re like, wait, who am I? What’s my name? Did I say it right? Why did I sound like that? That’s public speaking too. And I think that so often we forget that all of these places we are, um, coaching calls, sales calls, uh, networking events, getting on to a Facebook live or an Instagram live and following the advice of Katie and how to do social the right way. That’s all public speaking. Those are all times when we’re sharing our ideas, our stories and our own kind of energy and presence.

And so the big thing that I think before anything is to realize that all of those are opportunities to think about public speaking, to, to think about what am I doing now, because what I find most of the time, Katie, is that for most of the folks I work with, it’s not that we need to teach them a bunch of kind of pedantic techniques. It’s almost that they’ve gotten so many techniques that we need to get rid of a bunch of stuff. Like we need to strip away all the things that are not them, because they’re trying so hard to be someone else. I think, I don’t remember when it was like 2012 or something. The, the corporate word of the year was authentic and we wanted everyone to be authentic. And I think that that was like a, I think that happened after, you know, kind of everything we saw that happened with Enron and all of those worlds where we were like, Oh, we just want authenticity.

And I think that we got the message that we needed to do something, to become authentic, to become an authentic presenter. We needed to change something about ourselves. And what I think is really the most authentic version of you is whatever is most present. Like however you’re feeling right now, that’s, that’s authentic. And in fact, right now, if people were listening to you and I, before we hit record on this, we were talking to each other kind of the same way we are. Now, there wasn’t a shift in energy. And so that’s the number. One thing that I think for public speaking is to realize what people really want is you. They want your take on things. They want your opinion on things. They want to know what you think about things. And I would say that’s the same. If you’re a coach doing a sales call doing a webinar, I would say, that’s the same.

If you’re a real estate professional doing a listing appointment, um, doing a, an open house, I would say, that’s the same. If you’re going on a podcast, the reason we showed up to hear from you is because we want to hear from you. And so I think of it in three circles. I think our goal is always to be a certified original. Like no one else can say the things you can say, like you have been through experiences that no one else has. So what we want are these three circles that make a little Venn diagram, and I read somewhere a long time ago, you need to like make framework. So this is the framework. And one of them is your ideas, your perspective, your take your thoughts, your thought leadership and thought leadership doesn’t mean you need to be like Brene Brown or Simon Sinek.

It means you just need to look at things and have a specific way you think about them. Maybe that’s the way you think about, um, the market. Maybe it’s the way you think about personal development, whatever it is, have your own ideas really clearly thought out. The second circle is story crafting. So knowing how to package those ideas, knowing how to say things in a way that people say, Oh, that’s so interesting. I never thought about that. So that first circle touches the logical brain. You know, you’re touching the thoughts. The second circle touches the emotional brain. And then the third circle is your performance. Your stagecraft and stagecraft doesn’t mean you need to be on a TEDx stage, standing on the red dot it’s, whatever you’re in front of someone. How do you express yourself? You know, a lot of times when I’m working with someone for a virtual speech or a video, they’ll say, what do I do with my hands?

And it’s like, well, you do whatever your hands would do. Like that whole thing that we’ve learned where you’re supposed to put your hands together, like a little, like a little triangle in front of you. It’s so weird. It’s so weird and authentic because nobody ever, when I’ve ever talked to someone, one-on-one have they ever stood there and shake their little hands like that? So what would your hands naturally do? You know, I’m a TA, I’m both Italian and gay. My hands are going wild, Katie, Lance. So that’s the thing. Third circle is what is, what is your presence? And then when you bring those three things together, that’s how you really stand out. And so most of the time when I’m working with people on speaking, a lot of our work is just getting rid of all of the stuff they were told by other people they needed to do that.

They needed to dress a certain way, that they needed to stand a certain way, that they needed to wave their little hands a certain way that they should, um, you know, repeat things. It’s, it’s really, when you get really clear on your ideas, when you package them up into stories and messages that people can remember, you know, think about that. If you’re, if you’re in a, you know, a listing appointment say likely the person you’re talking to is having three or four, and everyone’s saying the same thing. I mean, a ton of these at this point, this is also not different. If you’re giving in corporate pitches, if you’re trying to sell things, everyone says the same thing. I joke about it because I have Disney in my bio that you read at the top of the show. And so does like a million other people.

I’m not unique because I did something at Disney or I did something at Uber. A lot of other people have done things in those places, even down to like, I see people say, I shared the stage with bill Clinton, like a million other people at this point. So yes, it is impressive, but it also doesn’t make you original. What makes you original is your ideas clearly stated in a way that is memorable, emotional, and then your actual truth coming through when you’re saying those words to me. And what I find is that when people can bring that to all of the speeches they give, even the little tiny ones, just in front of one other person, they usually have much better results.

So good. I think a lot of people get kind of hung up on exactly what you’re saying, you know, how to stand and where to put your hands and just all these, all these little pieces. But what really, you know, when I think of when I watched you speak or I’ve watched other memorable speakers, so you remember you remember your, your stories, but you remember how it made you feel, right? You remember like what it felt like at the end. And that goes back to what you were talking about earlier that, that buzz word authenticity, and just, I think one of the things I’ve always loved about you is just really, you really like lean into who you are. Right? And I think that’s one of the best things about you. And I think a lot of people can do also,

I was telling you at the beginning that I was a failed actor, so clearly I couldn’t lean onto being anyone else cause I wasn’t doing very well. So I figured I might as well be myself.

Exactly. Everybody else has taken. So I, I want to ask you, you know, a lot of people are listening to this and I, I would imagine that they’re going to have some aha moments, right. Of just this idea of like, Oh, I can’t be myself. And that’s, that’s what authenticity means. But there’s also, I think a lot of people who are super nervous about getting on camera or they dread every time they have to have a zoom, cause I’ve got to turn the camera on or maybe even they dread going to Starbucks and telling that person, their neighbor, you know, a lot of people kind of dread that like face-to-face communication or whether it’s one-to-one or, or on a stage with, with other people. Um, what would you tell someone who would come to you and say, gosh, I’m really nervous about that. Or how could someone boost their confidence?

You know, what’s interesting is there’s two things. One is that we there’s that saying that we fear public speaking. And that whole thing about like public speaking is the number one fear, by the way, that’s not true. That study is a horrible study, um, because who would really say, like, I fear that more than I fear death. The thing is is that they quizzed a bunch of people and the most con one of the most common fears we all share is public speaking. It doesn’t mean that we individually fear that more. So let’s get rid of that whole thing anyway. Cause I don’t think it’s helpful, but fear, fear of public speaking I think is, is not exactly what it is. I think it’s that we have anxiety about public speaking. And my, my definition anxiety is that it’s something that we couldn’t, that we don’t know how it’s going to turn out.

So we’re anxious. So like you have a little bit of fear and you add uncertainty to that and that leads to anxiety. And I think what I see with most people is that they’re not suffering from fear. Although that could be the case in some places it’s not fear as in like, Oh my gosh, I might get hurt here. What we suffer from is anxiety and anxiety to me comes from fear plus uncertainty. So what I would say to someone who’s having a lot of anxiety or fear around public speaking is that the only way through that is to test things, to tell the stories, this is why I’m such a, uh, a believer also in storytelling, not only is it an emotional experience for your audience to remember you and there’s just so much, there’s so much data that says they remember the stories more than they remember the facts and figures in your speech or your talk or your presentation.

But it also helps you because if you’re just going on a show, if you’re going on a podcast, if you’re going in front of a room and you’re telling a story that you know how to tell, guess what? You no longer have uncertainty. So even if you have fear, you no longer have anxiety because you know how it’s going to turn out. You trust yourself. And so that’s where I think testing those stories, getting a little practice, telling them that’s where if you are somebody who’s giving a business presentation or you’re giving a talk or you’re giving a listing presentation, practicing, it is really helpful. And the more that you can practice it around your own ideas and your own stories, that’s what you put into it, your own perspective, the better, because guess what? In the moment, if you forget what exactly the percentages of this or that, you’ll never forget how you feel about it and you’ll never forget your stories.

So uncertainty goes away and the anxiety level is lowered. So that’s number one thing that I would say. And the second thing is that we tend to have so much fear and anxiety around public speaking, I think because we’re really worried about getting it right. Really worried about saying the right words. And so while I just told you that you should rehearse and practice your stories, I don’t think you need a script. And I know this is where I differ from a lot of public speaking coaches out there who will sell you to script every word. But unless you’re a trained actor and a really great trained actor, by the way, because we’ve seen actors try to do something and it’s like, well, that didn’t work very well. And they’re trained. And then we see Meryl Streep do something the same lines. And it’s like, wow, that was amazing.

So unless you’re like Meryl Streep level performer, don’t, you don’t need to write down word for word what you’re going to say, what you need to know are the stories that you’re going to hit. You need to know the moments you’re going to hit because in the moment, then you can trust yourself. And here’s the thing about that. We’re scared that the audience is going to reject us, not believe us, find out that we’re a fraud, but if you’re sharing your ideas and you’re sharing your stories about it, or your opinion about something, then you’re not a fraud. It’s impossible to be a fraud because you’re not telling anything that, that, that is like, you know, I know this building to have a XYZ foundation. You’re no longer saying that you’re saying, wow. When I walked by this building, I was really impressed at how wide it was.

I couldn’t believe it. And here’s what it made me think. And so that’s the second thing I would say is that by focusing on your perspective, your opinion and stories about that, you can get rid of worrying about whether the audience is going to find you out as a fraud. And here’s what I’ll say. If you’ve been sitting in an audience, you know, that for the most part, as long as the speaker, isn’t arrogant or boring, those are the worst two things. You could be arrogant or boring if they’re not arrogant or boring, you’re on their side. And so probably most people are on your side as well.

That’s great advice. And I would love to kind of unpack this a little bit about storytelling, because I think like the word authenticity, I feel like storytelling is the buzz word of the year lately. Uh, or maybe the decade. I don’t know. Uh, and I have learned so much about storytelling from you and really thinking about what that means. I don’t know. I feel like a lot of people listening to this think, gosh, storytelling, it’s like, you know, once upon a time like fairytales or it’s like the big stories of our life, like, Oh my gosh, I have to like tragically almost died. Like that’s gotta be the story. Right. And, and it’s not, I mean, you talk a lot about this. I, you know, I’ve read, read your, your guide, your story craft guide, which we’re going to link below in the show notes, which is an awesome resource, by the way, you guys, it’s a free, free resource. My Caz on getting started with storytelling. Um, but can you share a few tips for people who are a little intimidated by this whole idea of like sharing their stories? You know, where could people start with this?

It’s so funny how, you know, I think more people talk about storytelling that actually ever tells stories. It’s even the people, by the way. And I didn’t come, I didn’t come to miss Katie Lance’s show to, to, to spill the tea and be petty, but I’m going to be petty for a moment here. If I can. The amount of people who sell storytelling, who don’t actually use storytelling is amazing to me. People that are, that are public speakers on storytelling, who through the whole course of their speech, don’t use stories blows me away of like, wait a second. I, you know, I don’t know. It’s like the, the, what is it about the cobbler and the kids with no shoes or something. So I think that’s really interesting, but I do think that, you know, the, the buzzword and I think you’re right, it probably is the buzzword of the decade of like use a story, tell a story, reach into their soul with a story, story, story, story, story, your life story, your brand story, your home kitchen.

Um, and it’s it’s, but here’s the deal. We all know that’s not true because we heard some boring stories before, right? Like we’ve been on the other side of uncle Tony telling a story and you’re like, when does this end? Or what is the point? Or I just don’t care what happens in this story? And so all the frameworks, all the formulas, all the rules in world, they don’t guarantee success because that’s not really what storytelling is about, because if it was then every single movie ever made would be a blockbuster would be like blowing it out because they have all kinds of formulas for screenwriting. But we know there’s something else to it. There’s, there’s some kind of soul to the story. There’s also context. Like what stories can be told right now are different than what stories could be told five years ago.

Like all of that matters a lot. And so all of these kinds of formulas for storytelling are helpful, but usually wrong as well. Like I think that, I dunno, we, we, good stories are hard to define, but we know when we’ve heard one, right? Like we can feel it. And so what I would say to anyone out there who’s thinking about storytelling is to always remember that context matters a lot. Where am I, when I’m telling the story, where does it fit in this situation? And does this after that? Because not all stories work in all places after that. It’s to think of, what am I, where am I aiming this? What is the goal of this story? What am I hoping the audience learns or feels from this? So for example, if we were talking about that classic story of the tortoise and the Hare, we know that the point of this is to teach that slow and steady wins the race.

So that’s everything in the story is related to helping someone know that insight. And so the first place I usually start because most people, when they’re thinking of like, okay, I need to share a story. They start at the beginning and they think, okay, what do I need? I need to tell them everything. How bright was it that day? What did the sun look like? What was the moon? And really what we need in a story is only the information that helps us have an aha moment around the insight. So we only need the information that helps us say, Oh, slow and steady wins the race. I get it. I’m never going to forget that now. Like I’m going to be on my deathbed, Katie. And I’m going to remember, I may not remember my daughter’s name if I have dementia or something, but I am going to remember slow and steady wins the race for the rest of my life.

Right. And so, so I think the thing is, is if you’re out there and you’re struggling with stories, because you’ve read all the books and you’ve done all the formulas and all the frameworks and all the rules and you think, Oh, I just, I don’t even care about my story. It’s probably that one, there’s a, through-line missing to your own experience. Meaning, you know, a through line in a story is kind of like, what’s the main point of this thing. What’s this all about in a movie or play or something. And so in our lives, we have that as well. And I think that when we’re sharing information with people, what is the through line? How is this connected to your bigger kind of path in life? Like I think Katie, I could probably close my eyes and someone could distort your voice. And I would know your teaching on how to do social from someone else’s because your soul is in it a little bit.

It feels like a Katie Lance idea. You’re like a certified original. I hope that when people could do the same to me distort my voice, listen to my message, read something. I wrote, look at a picture I shared and they would say, Oh, that’s clearly a Mike Benino thing. That’s not brainwashing that’s because I’m always connected to my through line. And so a lot of times the storytelling, the reason it doesn’t work is because it’s not really connected to who you are. You’re using a story to manipulate someone. And you and I have talked about that a lot, Katie of like how often people are using the power of their words to manipulate people. And I think we can tell, and I think we don’t like it. And I think sometimes when we are the ones sharing the story, we can tell that we don’t like it.

And so we kind of self-sabotage. So the lesson on storytelling would be to find things that one does delivered insight. You’re hoping your audience will have an aha moment. And in to the reason we want to hear you tell a story is because we want to hear how you felt. You know, if you’re, if you’re introducing the idea of your friend was really beautiful. We don’t need you to tell us why your friend was beautiful. We don’t need you to say she had blonde hair, blue eyes, but this kind of scan, whatever we don’t need. Any of that, who cares? What we want to know is how did her beautifulness make you feel? So you would change that. I just did this last week. So it’s top of mind with someone, you would change that part of the story to say my friend was so beautiful. You know, she was one of those people that every time I was next to her, I felt like I was tiny and small. So what that does, Katie is the person listening to, it says, okay, I might not have had a beautiful blonde friend, but I have definitely felt small standing next to someone before. So I’m in, I know what you’re talking about. Tell me more, that’s really the key to great storytelling is revealing something about yourself.

Yeah. That’s huge. Absolutely huge. And I think a lot of it goes to, um, just being, I feel like being really comfortable in your, in your skin too, you know, and knowing who you are and who you’re not. And that’s actually probably a good segue because I, I think one of the things I’ve always really admired about you is you are who you are, you’re comfortable in your own skin. And you know, this last year, I feel like a broken record because we’ve all been saying this, but there’s obviously, there’s a lot of craziness, uh, in the news, in our world in politics. And you know, and I feel like this, this ties into what we’re talking about with, with public public speaking. And this ties into storytelling because you are, you are who you are, you lean into who you are, and I’ve always admired that you, you take a stand and you publicly take a stand on things that are important to you. I would love for you to touch on that because I I’m, I’m sure that it, maybe it’s a risk. Maybe it’s not a risk. Um, for a lot of people, it feels like a risk. W what are your thoughts on, on that, about, you know, taking a stand and putting, putting some of that out there publicly, um, you know, has it affected your business? Has it not? You wonder about it. I just would love your thoughts

On all of that. That’s a big, yeah. I mean, I think, you know, over the course of the last year with elections and black lives matter, and then before that, the me too movement, I think probably because I made a decision a long time ago, I’ve definitely had clients and I’ve had friends who’ve spoken up in the last couple of years and there’s been more, they’ve had a lot of people message them and say, I’m out. I can’t do this with you. I didn’t sign up for this. And I think because I always, I mean, I think as a gay man in general, as an out gay man, I probably got lumped into not a lot of people were probably thinking that I was going to be very, um, very right-leaning just off the bat. Like, you don’t have to know a lot about me.

Someone could say, Oh, he’s a gay guy that lives in California. People probably like, yeah, he’s a, he’s a lefty over there. So I think that I had that benefit in some ways that, um, in that way it made it maybe a little easier for me because I’d already taken that hurdle where I’d said that thing. Um, which, which being publicly out, which sounds so funny. Cause I’m like all of my tens of followers know, you know, but, but being publicly made was really important to me because I remember, I remember being first starting in, in, you know, the restaurant industry, which also is probably helpful thing. I didn’t come from a very, like I wasn’t in banking or something like that. I was, I worked in restaurants as an actor. And so when I went into like corporate there, and this was like 2002, I remember not seeing anyone like me.

I remember thinking like, I didn’t know anyone else that was, that worked in the corporate office, who was, who was gay even. I hadn’t seen any examples of that. We certainly hadn’t had, you know, and at that point there weren’t even a lot of TV shows where we weren’t just like a funny sidekick or something. I mean, will, and grace was kind of like the thing then. And so to me it became really important because one time I was at a restaurant opening and someone, a young man came up to me and said, Hey, I just wanted to tell you, thank you. Um, you know, you always I’ve heard you correct people on, uh, pronouns around who I was dating or if I was dating someone or if I had a girlfriend and also that I, I didn’t toe the line and say like my partner as if I had a bakery with, with my boyfriend at the time or something.

And he said, thank you for that because I always, I really want to have a career in this. I’m really trying to grow in this. And I’m so scared that that will be a reason that people say, Oh, he should be like a waiter forever because you know, whatever. And so from that moment, it became really important for me to always be truthful in that to always correct the pronouns. And I’ve lost speaking gigs, by the way, um, from organizations that were like looked at my Instagram and said, Oh, you know, nevermind, I, I’ve definitely lost a couple of things from that. Um, but there’s plenty of work out there. I think that’s the thing that I think about is there’s plenty of work out there. So like, if this group doesn’t want to work with me because of that thing, like imagine how I would have felt onstage, helping them grow their business.

Right. But knowing that they hated me or that they hated who I was or what I stood for. So for me, it was always thinking there’s enough out there. And I wish that I had had more role, role models, more examples, more, more people who were visible that I could say, Oh, I could do that thing. Cause even right now, I mean, like if you and I made a list of like, who are 10 gay business authors that, you know, how many could you come up with? I couldn’t come up with very many. If I said, who are 10 public speakers that are out there really working, who are, who are gay, who are parents? I don’t know that I could come up with 10 and I’m in that community. And I am in both communities have a speaker and I’m a gay gay person.

I don’t think I could come up with 10. And so while it may feel to you out there listening of like, there’s people like this everywhere, there really aren’t there really aren’t. And so for me, that became a really important thing. And I think over the things that have happened in the last few years, that’s partially why people weren’t surprised is because I kind of always have been a little bit mouthy and talking about how I felt, what I saw, what I stood for and doing that over the last couple of years with so much of the social movements, I don’t think surprised a lot of people. So I haven’t received a lot of backlash. Um, a couple of times I’ve had someone post on Facebook and be like, that’s it, I’m leaving. And it’s like, all right, bye. Like, we’ll do like a party or what would you like me to do?

Um, and, and that’s okay. Like there’s enough flavors in this world that there’s someone else for me out there. And I’m also really good. I said this to my mom recently. She did her very first video. Katie, you would have been so proud. She did her very first, like video on social media. Um, she attended like a summit. I was part of. And so she posted her video and then, uh, she at work or something, she, some people came up with like, I like to give you some feedback. First of all, no one asked you. And so I said, here are my rules for feedback, mom. One, if I paid you to give me feedback, you can give me feedback. Okay. Two, if you’re doing the thing I want to do, and I ask you for feedback, you can give me feedback. Okay. Three, if I’m in a program with you and inside of the program, they teach us how to give each other feedback. You can give me feedback. Otherwise my feedback is, are closed right now. And I think I kind of approached my business that way too.

I think that is great advice. And I do love how everyone, everyone has an opinion and everyone oftentimes feels like they want to share it with you. So I think that that’s a good lesson and, uh, for many things about feedback, I love that. That’s a big takeaway here.

I learned that as an actor, I learned that as an actor, when I was doing improv in Chicago. So while I was working in the restaurants, I did kind of all the way through. And someone said that to me, one time of like stop taking notes. That’s what it’s called in that industry notes. Stop taking notes from everybody because you are going to just like water this down to where it’s boring. You need to figure out who is it that knows what you’re trying to do, or who is it that is paid to help you produce this, take their notes and ignore everyone else’s notes. And I don’t think I would’ve had the courage to do that. Had I not come from that acting side of things where it was like, you take the director’s notes and you take notes from other people who are trying to produce the same thing you are, everyone else you ignore because there’s so many critics and there’s so many people in the audience who are like, Oh, I’m scared for you. Oh, I’m this I’m that? And I don’t think I would have the courage to say what I just said to you. If I hadn’t been taught that as a performer.

And I think that’s one of the things I I’ve learned from you, because I think a lot of times is, especially if you’re someone who, who does a lot of public speaking, it’s, it’s easy to kind of fall into the trap where you’re at a conference. Granted, we haven’t all been at conferences a while, but back when we went to conferences, like it’s, it’s sort of like the classic scenario, you walk into a ballroom and you see someone on stage and you’re just in the back of the room, kind of silently judging that person, you know, Oh, their slides or, you know, whatever their, whatever they’re doing. And I’ll never forget you were the one. And I think you said this actually at the top of the show, you said, you know, just, just listening and saying, well, gosh, that’s, Oh, that’s interesting. They made that choice or just celebrating the fact, like they’re doing something that most people, you know, wouldn’t do or couldn’t you, or just, you know, not coming at it from a, from a judgemental standpoint. Um, and just kind of embracing the moment. So I’ve always thought of you whenever I’m in the back of the room, looking at a speaker,

Isn’t it funny when we have context around things we make, we’re willing to, to kind of calm down our feedback. So for example, if someone told you like, Oh, this, this ten-year-old girl is here to share a really important message. We all of a sudden become very soft and kind to her when she stutters, when she misses a word, when she’s nervous, when we see someone who we know, I heard a great speaker the other day, who had a debilitating, um, stuttering issue that was related to Tourette’s and he had trained himself to breathe and to be able to, to share. But when we hear that about it, we’re like, okay, we’re, we’re here for the message. But so often we think, well, if I don’t know what you’re going through, then I’ll assume your life is perfect. I think if any of us can say anything and say, no, one’s life is perfect.

So when they’re up there in that, who knows what they’re going through, like, you know, we’re worried about like their slide isn’t pretty, or this or that, or the other it’s like, who knows what they’ve experienced to be up there. So me having anything to say about them is really not helpful because, well, one, why is it helpful sitting over here thinking that about them? And so also for me, it’s really nice to be like, I ain’t, I’m not getting paid and this person didn’t ask for my help. I can turn that side off in my brain and I can just be here and see if there’s anything helpful. I can pull from this for myself. Right. Well,

And regardless of, of speaking, I think as we go throughout our, throughout our days, you know, I tell Paul this all the time, it’s like, you don’t know someone’s backstory, right? Like you only are interacting with them. Maybe you’re seeing no onstage, or maybe you’re scrolling through Facebook and you see something they post and you don’t know the backstory, like there’s, we all have something going on in our lives, positive, negative ups downs, or whatever. And I think just that perspective, you know, is so important.


So you, you mentioned being a dad a few times and I, I couldn’t let this podcast go on without asking you about that because I know you and your awesome husband, Phil just became dads this past summer in the middle of a pandemic. Uh, so first off, that’s going to be a great story to tell your daughter, uh, but second of all, how has that going? And do you have any parenting tips you’d like to share or any lessons you have learned? I would love to talk to you about this for a minute.

Yeah. I mean, we had, uh, we had, uh, a baby, one of them, you know, one of the interesting Katie has been that I think when people see a, um, kind of, uh, uh, male, female, couple with a baby, they just assume it’s their baby. Like they don’t assume there was any kind of IVF involved. They don’t assume it’s adopted. They don’t assume it’s surrogate. They just assume it’s your baby. The very interesting thing about being two men with a baby is people know, we didn’t just go, you know, to the hotel and make a baby. So that, so that question is always kind of lingering there. And what I found that’s been really interesting has been the amount of conversations I’ve had with, um, male, female couples around their journey with IVF or surrogacy. That’s been the really interesting thing. I think I knew that I would find my, my group of people to learn from as gay parents, my Facebook groups and things like that.

But what’s been really interesting is the, the heterosexual couples that have shared their surrogacy journey, their IVF journey. And for them, a lot of times they had to go through that really privately because it wasn’t an easy thing to talk about for Phil. And I, of course it was an easy thing to talk about because nobody assumed that, you know, we should do, there was no pressure for us just to go, you know, like I said to the hotel and make a baby, but for the other couple, so that’s been like probably the most surprising thing has been the amount of people who’ve come and said, Oh my God, thank you for sharing that. Thank you for saying that because here was my story that I’ve never shared. So that’s been really, really interesting. Like probably the most surprising thing from this journey was that, um, my daughter was born three months early, as you know, but for the listeners three months early as well in a foreign country, because we did an international surrogacy.

So not only was it like COVID, but it was a three month early, um, birth and during, uh, in a, in a foreign country. So it was like a whole list of things. And I think, um, the tip, I have no like these people who said to me, like sleep when she sleeps, I don’t know who you are, but that isn’t mean, and cruel thing to say, because that does not work. It did not work for me. Um, I, you know what I have been though, I’ve been super, super, um, like, Hey, we gotta, we gotta follow the sleeping plan. And right now we’re at like seven months, she’s seven months old. And she sleeps from about 1130 to seven in the morning. And my, my husband sometimes is like, Oh, she’s too cute to wake up. And I was like, she ain’t that cute.

She ain’t that cute. Wake her up and feed her because I don’t want to wake up overnight to do that. Um, and then the other thing I would say, I guess if I have a tip, it would be something someone told me was before the baby is born schedule, um, appointments with a therapist for yourself. And that’s good advice if you don’t need them, you can cancel them. But in the moment when you are, and I, and I’ve been very public about this, I had pretty heavy like postpartum depression. Um, I was the one staying home. So not only was it like COVID, my speaking business was different in 2019, I did 200,000 miles on airlines. Uh, I was like away from home, like 280 nights of the year. And then all of a sudden I went to like nothing and just like staying at home, like drinking wine in my pajamas.

And so not only did I have all of that kind of depression that was going on, but also once I was home every day with Viviana, cause Phil still was going to work. Um, cause he works in food, food, manufacturing. I was really in a place where I don’t think I would have had the, I don’t think I would have recognized that I needed the help. And so thank goodness that my friend had told me just schedule like six months of therapy. And if you do not need it, you cancel it. But you’ll know up the appointments on the calendar. I can go and you’ll figure out what to talk about. And that was really a lifesaver because depression is a real thing. It’s not made up. You don’t have to happy yourself out of depression. It is a real thing. It is an okay thing to feel. You can love your child immensely and feel really, really sad as well. And so schedule those appointments and if you don’t need them, you can cancel them last minute. But in the moment it’s a really hard call to make. So that would probably be the that’s the only tip everything else, read a book, watch things, let friends yell at you on the internet, what to do. But that would be my tip that I think probably, um, saved, saved me.

Hmm. That’s such great advice. And I think you also just busted through a few myths, you know, that I think myths and stereotypes that I think we tend to have around postpartum and you know, depression that might happen after you have a baby. I think a lot of people think, Oh, that’s, that’s just a female thing or, you know, uh, and it’s, it’s certainly not. And no one has shared that advice with, so I love that. That’s a great piece of advice and I hope, I hope our listeners, uh, you know, especially if you have kids, heck I don’t know. I might go online right now, books and appointments myself. My kids are 10 and 13, but that’s a pretty device.

Yeah. And even all of these parents who, you know, I look at my friends and family who have school-aged children and it’s like, I don’t know how you did it. And I’ve, you know, you and I, you and I text and message and chat quite a bit. Katie. And I mean, I don’t know how you all did it this year. Like what a hard thing to nobody was working from home. That’s the idea of like, Oh, it’s remote working. No, it wasn’t. This was like the hardest weirdest thing that anyone’s had to do. And I’m just a huge proponent of having therapy. There’s nothing wrong with it. There’s nothing wrong with being depressed. It’s very normal. It’s all just human stuff. And so having another person to talk to, who’s not a friend or a family member who might have vested interest in you getting over it. Are you being happy or are you not telling them why you’re sad or why you’re having a hard day, uh, is really a valuable thing. And I think it’s, it’s was, I’m really glad that my friend told me that because I wouldn’t have made those appointments in advance and I probably in the moment wouldn’t have had the foresight to realize I really needed them.

Yeah, absolutely. Good advice, Mike. So good. So good. I know we could probably keep talking for like another hour because I have all these questions now, but uh, I want to be respectful of your time and, and our listeners time. This has been, this has been so awesome. I just so appreciate you being on with me today and just sharing so many great tips and just sharing your heart. And it’s just, it’s just been awesome to have you have you here today. I so appreciate it.

Well, thank you so much. It’s uh, I know how much you care about your audience. I’ve I’ve been in your audience. I’ve seen you and I know how much you care about them. So it’s such an honor that you shared them with me today. Thank you

Absolutely. Well, before we wrap up, is there anything else that you’d like to add? Anything that I missed asking you or any last words of wisdom before we wrap up here today?

I think here here’s the big thing I would say probably if you’re listening to this, if you’re still listening to this at this point out there, then you’ve heard me today. Talk about business. Talk about public speaking. You’ve heard me talk about postpartum depression. You’ve heard me talk about being a kid who came from from humble beginnings. You’ve heard me talk about, uh, so many different things and if you’re still listening, none of that made you discredit me. None of that made you say this guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about because he had a hard time after his daughter was born. None of it did. And I promise you that the people out there who need to hear from you, the people out there who need to work with you, they’re not going to discredit you from being human as well from finding ways to share your stories with them. As long as those stories serve them, as long as those stories are helpful. And so if you’re listening to this and you’re feeling like I have to hide who I am all the time that I can’t be me, I promise you, there are people out there who need to hear what you have to say and people out there who will love you more for it. So go tell your story, go put yourself into your presentations because we need you. We need you more than ever right now.

Absolutely. I love that. And for all of you listening, please make sure you connect with Mike. I’m going to give you two great ways to connect with him. Connect with him over on Instagram. He is at Mike Ganino over on Instagram, he’s at Mike Ganino and make sure you download his free guide. He’s got a great guide to storytelling and you know, Mike shared so many great tips today about storytelling. And just throughout this interview, he shared so many great stories. So if you want to get better about that and hone your craft, definitely download that. It’s that We will link that in the show notes below, and I will link his podcasts below also because he’s got a great podcast that I want to make sure you guys check that out. So if you enjoy this show, we would love. If you would tell a friend, that’s the best thing that you can do, share it out. Take a screenshot. If you’re listening to this on your phone, you can tag me on Instagram. I’m at @KatieLance, tag Mike, and we would love to hear from you. So again, thank you so much, Mike, for being on the show today. Thanks for having me. All right, everyone until next time, have a great day. We’ll see you soon.


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