Ep 116: Dynamic Speaking and Scaling Joy with Dan Thurmon

Rory Vaden here. Thank you so much for tuning in to listen to this interview. We are so excited to bring you this information and wanted to let you know that, Hey, there’s no sales pitch coming. From anything that we do with this is all our value add to you and the community. However, if you are somebody who is looking for specific strategies on how to build and monetize your personal brand, we would love to talk to you and we offer a free call to everyone that’s interested in getting to know us and is willing to give us a chance to get to know them and share a little bit about what we do. So if you’re interested in taking us up on a free strategy call, you can do that at brand builders, group.com/summit. Call brand builders, group.com/summit. Call, hope to talk to you soon on with the show. Dan Thurman is one of the reasons why I almost gave up my career as a keynote speaker. He is extraordinary.

I mean he provides amazing content you know, just kind of like real, true thought leadership, but in the most acrobatic and entertaining way. And I use the word acrobatic because he does backflips. He juggles, he throws knives. He can do handstands on podiums, like and I know that most of you are listening to this, but if you don’t know this, we record all of these episodes as videos and we put them also on our YouTube channel. And you know, I don’t know for sure, but like, there’s probably going to be some elements because Dan is so visual that you, you may hear us reference and usual bit too to the visual and you might go check out our YouTube channel and you know, we’ll post we’ll post a link to that. But so Dan is incredible. I mean, he is a hall of fame speaker.

He’s also a former president of the national speakers association. I’ve known him for years. Although I wouldn’t say we’ve been like super close friends. We have the same friends that we’re super close to, and it’s not for any other reason than we just both been out there running a gun. And, but I mean, listen to his client list. Okay. So when I talk about the kind of work that he’s doing and the, the kind of companies that, that he is speaking to it’s extraordinary. So you’re talking about the Coca-Cola’s of the world bank of America, Proctor and gamble, Marriott Johnson and Johnson, Walmart crafts, state farm Honeywell. I mean, these are some of the world’s biggest and brightest companies that have brought him in to speak. The reason, not the only reason, but one of the reasons that I invited Dan to be here is because he has been around in the speaking world as a very successful speaker for a long time.

I mean, he was inducted into the hall of fame almost 10 years ago. So and he has also, you know, he spoke on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan. So he’s been around a long time, but he’s doing some incredibly innovative things. So he’s checks like all the kind of like classic marks, you know, he’s got a great book called off balance on purpose, but he’s doing some things. So first of all, on Tik talk, him and his teenage daughter, Maggie are like tick tock celebrities. They have multiple videos that have been viewed more than 30 million times. Their Tik TOK channel has over a million subscribers. And so it’s so innovative. And then one of the other things that he’s doing is the way that he has pivoted to his virtual live stream events is just extraordinary. And so we’re going to, we’re going to just talk about how to stay relevant in a kind of like COVID world as a speaker and all, all things. How do you get to be Dan Thurman except, you know, we’re not going to do pushup and handstand tutorials, I don’t think, but anyways, welcome to the show, Dan, glad to have you,

What an intro of Rory that is so amazing for your compliments. One quick update because things change quick, you know, that Maggie’s following on Tik TOK is now over 3 million. And so yeah, so things just keep growing and growing, man. It’s, it’s a lot of fun though.

I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s really crazy. Like, you know, and I’m serious about that. Like the first time I saw you keynote, I was like, why would someone hire me when they could hire this guy? It was like you know, I have that thought every week, not very often, but every once in a while I have that thought and I was just like, you know, that was it. And then, and then just seeing you guys crush it on social media is kind of the same thing. And I mean, you’re an entertainer. I think there’s a, there’s a big part of your background, right? Like you just been in entertainment, but so let’s talk about tech talk for a second. Since we can kind of dive in, what the heck, like, how do you get 3 million followers? Like why, what are you doing? Like, what is your strategy? Because most speakers, I think, a what a waste of time, and you guys are just crushing it. So like, what’s your mindset there a little over a year,

Year ago, like most people never heard of Tik TOK, but Maggie had. And so she got involved on the platform. She had a good background and foundation because for a year she had been in high school, a brand influencer and advocate for Hollister. She was hired on a team and a project to promote endorse, launched new products and things. They, they really educated her in many ways about social media and Instagram. It was really Instagram based on that platform in terms of how to work for for Hollister that ran its course and the program ended, but she already was quite marketing savvy, had grown her Instagram following a good bit and heard about Tik TOK got involved in, tic-tac had a couple of her videos that did well. And then she had a, she asked me, dad, do you want to do a dance together?

We did this dance that to a Fergie song that just went completely bonkers. We went to the gym to play racquetball. And by the time we got out of that session, it had over 300,000 likes or something stupid like that. And then it just kept going and going and going that elevated Maggie’s platform. And, and she continued to do her own thing, but the things that we did together, what was interesting is it became very much about our relationship. We have a very genuine, loving natural relationship which filled this need in Tik TOK. A lot of people responded saying, I wish I had that in my family. I wish my dad would do these kinds of things with me. And so in a very careful way, we’ve, we’ve managed her brand to she’s now in college, a freshman in college and envisions this as her career. Obviously I’m not going to be a part of that journey for her whole life. And so we we’ve grown the dad daughter stuff in dance and comedy. And of course the variety of skills that we do with juggling and acrobatics and unicycling and silks, and, and kind of found different ways to introduce all these skills.

And very quickly, I just have to say, like, you know, it’s a little bit frustrating that you like God was dishing out talents. And I think there was like a glitch in the system and just like dumped. I mean, you guys are incredible, like the dancing, the acrobatics, the juggling, I mean, that’s really, it’s really, it’s entertaining. It’s really entertainment, entertainment in the most pure sense.

It’s, it’s so fun. And it’s a part of who I am. It’s just by my language of my love languages, kinesthetic movement. I love to just do things, learn things, develop skills, always have. That’s kind of how I channeled my hyperactive energy. And now you and I are a lot, a lot the same. But as she got closer to college, what we began to do is, you know, obviously she’s branching out more with her own videos and her own skills. And, and now it’s probably like 90 10, like where she’s doing Mo mostly her content I’m involved in our channel here and there. We had a trip to LA last week to see some other influencers. And so we did some more together during that. I have my own tech talk where I only have like a half a million followers on mine, but but, but it’s, but I’m still thinking about Tik TOK relative to my brand, because this is gen Z. This is that next level audience. And what I’ve sort of learned is that they, they are very receptive to what I have to teach and to the way that I can teach it, it’s just a different vibe and a different connection. So I’ve been very careful and very fascinated by how I could develop that relationship, that relationship with a new, a new generation all over the world. And it’s extraordinary to wrap your mind around.

Yeah. So like talking about, thinking about the generations for a second, you know, we had Jason Dorsey on here just a few, a few episodes ago, talking about generation Z and all of their research and stuff, you know, on the one hand people kind of go, you know, how do you make money from tech talk other than like brand deals and stuff. But if you’re going to be like a speaker or an author or a, or a personal brand, and do you have some type of a monetization strategy or is it more of like, this is street credibility? Or is it more of like, these people one day will be the book buyers and the decision makers. And so I want to connect with them or do you just, or is it just like, I’m just there because it’s fun. And I think it’s fun to do, like, how do you approach that?

So I’m not trying to monetize it in any direct way. Although I have had speaking engagements that came in through Tik TOK or coaching relationships that started because people found me on Tik TOK, people who find me on Tik TOK, find me, go to my LinkedIn and see my business side. So, so it’s definitely feeding that pipeline. But so much of it, Rory is I know that something great is happening as a result because it’s pure and it’s, and it’s real. And, but my intention is only to give and to help. And if I can scale giving and helping and filling a need on this level, you know, that’s a type of success. I don’t even have to monetize. I would be, it would be so satisfying and wonderful to know that I, that I could contribute, especially now to a world where so many kids are facing depression and bullying and, and all this frustration.

And I’ve been challenged at early early ages to feel like they’ve got to have it all together when really they could, they don’t and they shouldn’t, and they can just be themselves and find themselves and they need joy. They need, they need, as Maggie’s tagline to her whole brand is go make someone smile, literally just go make someone smile. So there’s a lot of ways that you can make someone smile. And the best smile that we can have is when we appreciate ourselves and who we are. And so that’s really my intention with it is that yes, these will be perhaps future clients. It’s nice to have that brand elevated. It’s good to get recognized in Starbucks and in, by Jenny’s eaters, which, which happens regularly now. And, and it’s pretty bizarre cause it, it doesn’t matter where you are, right. It’s not geographic, it’s, it’s a, it’s a bigger type of celebrity, which I’m obviously not accustomed to, as a keynote speaker, I’m accustomed to going into the room. Nobody knows who you are. Right. Right. And then, and then when you’re done, you, everybody knows who you are and you get that like temporary celebrity. And then you can go back to the airport and blend in again and be completely anonymous. So it’s not that I’m super famous. I’m really not, but it’s, but it’s been fun to, to, you know, get recognized here and there.

Yeah. That’s amazing. I mean, I think I don’t want to skip over what you said there about, if you could just scale giving and helping at this kind of a magnitude, this sort of a level, that’s a success that you don’t have to monetize. And I feel like that mindset alone is the thing that ultimately is the cause and the source of the people who break through the wall, what we call breaking through the wall and sustain longterm, regardless of its Tik TOK or Instagram or email marketing or speaking or writing books. And just to like, hear you say that, you know, I want to ask you about some other stuff, but I don’t want to skip over that because that, that is such a big, a big moment. And that’ll probably be one of the biggest things that I take away from this, which I, I love,

It’s easy to say it’s, and we’ve always said that, that we’re in the business of giving and helping and serving, but, but, but really a huge part of our brain is always trying to work the revenue and work the business and grow the business and, and measure ourselves and compare ourselves to our competition by what we’re doing and how busy we are and how much we’re making. And so for me, the challenge of COVID was, you know, obviously the dates fell off the calendar and when you identify yourself as a speaker, who’s out there doing live engagements and there certainly are no, there’s no events, there’s no engagements, there’s no stages. There’s no audiences. Now we’re faced with the question, well, who are you now at? Or who are you really? And so very, very early on the shift became, I’m not sure how much money we’re going to make this year.

Yes, we’re going to, we’re going to pivot. We’re going to do our thing. We’re going to serve our clients. We’re going to grow our business, but let’s change that measurement to how many people can we help this year, because one, thing’s for sure in the supply and demand world point that the demand for our help and our services has never been higher. People need it more than ever. So if, even if it’s just giving it away, that’s what I want to do because I think it’d be interesting if we got hall of fame awards for the biggest impact that we made in the world. I pray, I certainly wouldn’t get one of those. But I I’d love to.

Yeah. And that’s, that’s such a great perspective. And social media gives you that ability to like, if you really want to change lives, like if it really has nothing to do with money, like turn on your camera and talk to the camera and change lives. Like there’s never been an easier way to, to, to access people. So I want to come back to the technical a little bit. What are you doing with reels? So now Instagram has released the reels functionality, which is basically like their answer or competitor of Tik talk, you know? Are you reposting the same videos to reels? Are you not yet paying attention to reels or like what’s yeah. What’s, what’s going on there.

Yeah. It’s not something on my radar right now. I I’m aware that it’s happening, but, but Maggie has I think it kind of told me that her generation kind of thinks it’s it’s not there yet in terms of what it could do and the capabilities you know, so, so that’s not something we’re doing. We are posting on Instagram and we’re posting on, IETV sort of my weekly coaching videos, which get a very modest impression. I think it’s, it’s nothing like the scalability of tick-tock for me. But I’d be very curious to know more.

What is your just for the purpose, what’s your Tik TOK handle and Maggie’s, do you mind throwing that out so that people,

So Maggie’s is Maggie Thurman, T H U R M O N. So just at M a G, G I E T H U R M O N. And and my, my ticket Tik TOK handle is actually Maggie’s dad one, two, three. So, so this, and this was a very early decision because I didn’t. So for me, what was happening with tick-tock was so special as a father and in our relationship. And I didn’t want to, in any way feel like I was trying to, you know, chase her clout and, and trade off of that in my own business. So I’m just, Maggie’s dad one, two, three, which is kind of funny. And it sticks because even though now I’m doing more of my own content on my channel, that origin story is still really special to both of us. But you know, all along, I really saw that as more our thing than my thing.

I love that that is really, really, really cool. So yeah. Okay, great. So we’ll put links to that. Maggie, Maggie Thurman at Maggie’s dad, one, two, three. So I love that. So you mentioned COVID here a while ago and the pivots, and I think most people are pretty aware of this. I mean, if for those of us that earned a large percentage of our ordinary income from getting on an airplane, flying to an event, being in front of hundreds of thousands of people coming in as a stranger, as you say, you know, delivering this whatever 60 or 90 minute performance slash teaching, and then COVID happens. And all of those events disappear. I mean, like literally all of them disappeared and almost literally overnight, they were gone. What so separate of this tick talk, social media thing, you also have done some amazing pivots with your, you know, what let’s call it, your corporate brand or your classic brand, or your classic message even down to the technology and the studio that you’re using. And again for you listening, you’re not going to have the benefit of this, but can I ask you to do a virtual tour for, so the people watching the video can literally see what you’re about to change rooms. Like, like just give us the, the tumor, if you, because when we jumped on here, you like stood up and walked to a different room and like the whole thing changed. So can you just give us like a virtual tour of your studio so people that can watch the video can see what’s happening here?

Absolutely. Okay. So the first thing to understand is my brand, which is that elevated experience. People hire me because they want more than just a speaker. They want mind, body, and spirit kind of all in connection. And my method of teaching is very physical, very, very visual. And so we realized early, we wanted a space where we could do that very well. So we have three different sets I’m currently sitting in the library, which is where we really get into that heart connection. More that spiritual connection, driving stories, home, closing points, that type of thing. But then we needed a physical space, which is right over here. So stepping just to my right, this is the stage, this is our action room.

Okay. And for those of you that aren’t seeing this, I have just, he stood up out of his chair, walked, I don’t know, three feet to the right. And the entire screen changed. And we went from looking at a library to now we’re still on a zoom meeting, but now I’m seeing a completely different backdrop with a podium and a teaching screen.

Right. So, so for example, you see the podium and you see my, my teaching screen. And you mentioned the book off balance on purpose. So in many ways I’ve been preparing for this moment this year and teaching in my contents, very, very congruent because we’re more off-balance than ever before. Moving through these changes with uncertainty, just kind of unfolding and forth in front of us for the foreseeable future. And so one of the ways I teach that here, I’m moving to the lectern is you know, this is like our foundations, which all of our foundations, how we work, we teach how we parent, how we eat, how we shop, all of it’s been rocked. And so the question is, how do you position yourself on top of uncertainty? Okay, here we go.

Going for it. This is crazy. He is vertical, complete handstand on top of a podium. This is so corroborate.

You got to see us. I’m not, I’m not balanced. I’m balancing, I’m making constant adjustments and corrections. And after all that effort, I’m still right here. So we just cut to a second camera, but here’s the message balance. Isn’t what you get balance is what you do this year is about developing the skills to make those adjustments in real time, even though your foundations are rocked and unstable, which you can do, if you bring a greater sense of purpose to the moment that you’re in and manage and use these skills, which we teach to help you leverage the positive aspects of uncertainty in order to, in order to change and in order to grow. So that’s,

That’s awesome. So, so this is where, okay, so hold on. I want you to, I gotta interrupt you because I want everyone to know what just happened. So he just, first of all, the last angle we were looking at, you were doing a handstand on a podium and there was two camps. There were two different camera angles on that shot. So it was the second setup, like a second stage with two different camera angles. And now you’re just walked another, like, I don’t know, three feet to a different direction. And now you’re in a different, what, what do you call this set? Okay.

This is our classroom. This is really where our we teach and break down ideas. So if you think of mind, body, and spirit, so this is where we would really focus on your mind and how we teach you ideas, but then break them down into strategies. Like for example, on this Flipboard here we talk about this is actually a different work for a client that we we’ve been working on right now. But let me move to one of our recent phases. We can interact with this and we can artfully go through different content in different phases. One of the things we talk about quite frequently is this spectrum of certainty. Like I talk about, you know, managing the positive aspects of uncertainty, which you can do because really all you ever get is some certainty. You know,

Just again for everyone that’s listening. So now he’s in his teaching classroom set and there’s another camera angle. So it just shifted. So you’ve got two camera angles here going,

And, and what, what I want you to know is that even with the, the other set, you had the low angle where I went into the handstand, we switched to a different camera here, we have this forward camera, and then we have the second camera, which is how you, where you see me, right. And it’s also a closer shot, a more personal shot. The point is, it’s not extraneous, everything’s intentional. And if you have different cameras, but they’re not for specific reasons, then it’s really the same as pacing a stage without any purpose. And so everything has to be well thought out and used in a strategic way. And so, okay.

So one other, sorry, real quick, before you go into the spectrum of certainty, because I think both your content is relevant to us, as well as how you’re delivering the content is super relevant. So I apologize for the interruptions, but like, are you looking at, do you have tally lights, like a camera lights that come on to tell you where to look or does the camera switch when you look to the camera?

No, I have Stephanie and Shan. Right? So, and that’s been another incredible thing this year. Rory is that so often we’ve, we’ve been on our own on the road doing our deal, and it’s been very much a solo effort. This brought our whole team together. My wife Shea is incredible and is a visionary and a video producer and developer in her own, right? So she brought a lot of understanding in terms of how to do this and was able to source the equipment. We leveraged fellow NSA, friends, like [inaudible] and others who, who helped us understand what they were doing and really cut our learning curve in terms of making this happen. So Shay’s here and she’s operating a camera and and kind of running some things in the background producing Stephanie is the, is doing the camera switching. And so we’ve, we’ve practiced enough and she’s watching me attentively. So when I, when I look from this camera, I do it very abruptly and she sees that and then she’ll, she’ll make that change. So it’s, it’s really a matter of me being clear with where I’m looking and, and then she knows how to read that. But you know,

And direct, you’re directing the camera shots basically by a definitive gesture to move where normally in a TV studio, somebody, the director is moving the tally light, the little red light, and then you follow that. You follow it, but you have it in reverse.

And what I’ve learned is I just have to be very clear because if I’m kind of like wandering around, she’s got no idea where to go. Right. And so it’s just, we’ve, we’ve, we’ve developed that skill over time,

But I love what you’re saying. That’s a, that’s a very SIM, that’s a similar parallel to just wandering eyes in an audience versus deliberate eye contact to like different people in the room. Right.

And, Oh my goodness. I can really go into that. We could do a whole tutorial on how to, how to teach to a camera which is maybe we should

Have you come back and do another one of those.

Yeah, exactly. But but the point is, we’ve learned a lot and we’ve really used this period of time to our advantage. And so this concept of a spectrum of certainty really is about three steps, three strategies that we teach to claim your certainty. So we got to claim what is certain, everything that we know already, still counts. We just have to use it differently. We have to redeploy what we’ve gained all these years and say, how does it still serve us? Or how does it serve us now in maybe even a better way than it did before? And so, instead of when you feel uncertain about some things, you can feel like you’re uncertain about everything, and it’s not true. There’s a lot that, you know, and it all counts and serves you. So you really have to claim it. You have to embrace what’s unknown because you, and I’ve seen a lot of speakers, authors companies, clients, who who’ve just spent enormous amounts of energy saying, well, when will this be over and how are we coming out of it?

And when will we be back on stages? And it just, all this mental exercise on really what is right now, not only unknown, but on knowable, right? We can’t control that. But what we can do think about your future as if it’s not just uncertain, but it’s unfolding, it’s unfolding and you have this role you’re playing in terms of how to shape it. But there’s just some things we’re not going to know until we get to the next chapter, like reading a great book or watching a great movie. You don’t have to know the ending to enjoy the movie to be engaged. And, and, and along the way we can create more certainty than the way you create more certainty is by testing yourself and improving yourself and saying, regardless of how everything else is working out, I know for sure we’re going to be better on the other side of this because of what we’re choosing to do now. And this studio is really our response to putting that into action. Right.

Right. Yeah. I, I mean, I love this. So can you walk back to the library? Is that, is that doable? Yeah. Amazing. And so then you just move over. So these are three, literally three different physical setups you have in the space. Then the room that you’re in this, isn’t like a virtual background shift at all. This is

Three physical spaces, five cameras. So there’s only one camera in here, which is all I really need, because again, this is about pouring into your heart, you know, and, and just really connecting eyeball to eyeball.

Yeah. So, so it’s a five camera shoot. And then the, in terms of the other technology, you got two people to run the room. You said Shay and Stephanie are both there to like help you operate things when you’re doing it. And then so you obviously have a switcher. So this is just like an alive event. You have to have a switcher to switch camera feeds. So you have a switcher. And then is there any other big pieces of technology that’s going on? I mean, must be some program that you’re running to like S or is it just different camera feeds into a school?

The beauty of keeping it with the physical switcher and we’re using an ATM system, a black magic ATM, which has a total of eight different camera inputs. We’re only, we’re using five for cameras, we’re using one for media. So in other words, we could start our show by taking a video and intro video that brings it in or cut to a video. I have, I have a scene where I’m in the action room and I finished something and I’m talking about, you never know where your next challenge is going to come from. And literally at that moment, a rope drops from the ceiling and I’m like, okay, well, I’m going to, I’m going to go for it. And meanwhile, watch this video. And I literally climbed the rope out of the camera lens, and then we cut to video. And so it’s, it’s really like producing a TV show, but the equipment of the cameras, bid cameras, a good switcher, a good computer to drive it, the S the software, because it’s hardware, you don’t need a sophisticated software program.

Usually there’s another device that flows out of the switcher for the interface to whatever platform you’re using. And what we found is depending on the platform, whether it’s zoom or go to meeting or black or whatever, it could be a Microsoft teams this afternoon, we’re doing one for a platform we’ve never done before. It’s a proprietary thing with each of those setups. And also with each of the updates, because there’s always new security settings and things like this, you really have to always, re-examine how your equipment’s working and make that happen. So it’s not a one and done set it and forget it. This is something you have to keep learning as you go.

Wow. but more or less you, you got, you got, you got a switcher, you got some camera and you got inputs from the from the cameras. And it’s not, you know, it’s not impossible. I mean, you guys are pulling it off. This is incredible.

Well, thank you. But I, and I also want to point out because I know that that a lot of people starting out are thinking, well, sure, like if I had a studio and a set, then, then everything would be easier and I’d be much more engaging and whatnot course. And the point is, you know, that’s the trap of this business is that comparison to what others are doing or what they, what you think will be necessary. And it’s not, it’s not necessary. There are so many of our speaker friends who are, who are doing something so much more simple and are still having incredible success because they know how to connect with an audience. And they’re bringing relevant content, which is the whole key. I mean, if you think about like an X, Y axis, this whole business and success and brand is about relevant content and then your engagement and your experience, and, and not just, not just what, you know, how, what, you know, really fixes the problem, applies to your audience and are you delivering it in a way that they can really absorb it, learn from it, remember it for a long time to come.

And so you can do that in any number of ways. This is just one of the answers. This is the answer that works for me.

Yeah. Well, this is so extraordinary. And, and I would, I would just, you know, I echo that point and emphasize that it’s not about the technology or any, it’s like, it’s your mindset to go? How can we serve? How can we adapt? How can we pivot? How can we be off balance on purpose as you say, and make the most out of this. And and it’s fun, you know, like I just, I really love it. You’re, you’re what a great way to showcase you, living out your message and your whole team coming together, and, you know, the family business of your wife and your daughter, like it’s just really, really cool. So Dan, where do you want people to go if they want to connect with you and like find out more, and man, if you’re booking virtual keynotes, like don’t bother calling Rory Vaden, just call Dan Thurman, just like skip past us contact Dan. And w H how do people connect with you?

Sure. Just it’s super simple. Just go to my website, Dan thurman.com Dan Thurman, T H U R M O n.com. It actually loads at the moment to our virtual page, but there’s a lot of content and resources there too, as well as our weekly coaching series. So maybe you’re running a team and you’re really looking for something that you can use to help them recalibrate their mindset. There are some videos on my website that can serve you and conserve them. And by all means, please help yourself and use those and spread those as you will.

So we’ll put links there to Dan thurman.com as well as to Maggie and Dan’s Tik TOK profile. So you can see this as lots and lots of fun. My friend, we just appreciate you and your mission and your heart to serve people. And just make the most of the talents you have to make the world a better place. And that totally shines through. And, and we wish you the best.