World of Speakers E.33: Cynthia Johnson | Chocolate bunnies, bowling, and broadswords: how to break into the speaking industry


Average: 5 (2 votes)

World of Speakers E.33 Cynthia Johnson

Ryan Foland speaks with Cynthia Johnson, a digital marketing and brand development expert. She is a thought leader and specialist when it comes to cutting edge social media, and building online influence.

In this entertain interview, Ryan and Cynthia jump between a lot of topics: from how to get paid to speak by big companies, to how to use, or not to use, social media on stage. This talk is both engaging and loaded with great info for speakers of all levels.  

Listen to this podcast to find out:

  1. How knowing your content inside out has a major effect on your ability to connect and offer value to your audience.
  2. How to impact an entire audience by starting with one person.
  3. Why you need to rehearse if you want to hit the big leagues of speaking.
  4. One important tip for making contact and getting booked by big companies and organizations.
  5. Selfies: yes or no? Practical tips for using social media on stage.



If you enjoy this interview we’d be honoured if you reviewed us on iTunes. Just follow this link.


Cynthia Johnson: Hey everyone, I'm Cynthia Johnson and I just finished the World of Speakers podcast with Ryan Foland.

It was a lot of fun.

We talked about everything, from bowling to pies, our grandparents, and chocolate bunnies.

If you want to know what that has to do with being on stage and really making an impact, you are just going to have to listen to the episode.

Ryan Foland: Hello everyone, I am back, and today, I am stocked because I'm here with Cynthia Johnson.

I've met her, I've had her on my radar, it's so fun to see what she's doing.

She is the founder and CEO of Bell + Ivy. She's an entrepreneur, a speaker, an author and much more.

Cynthia welcome to the show. How are you?

CJ: I am great, thank you. How are you?

RF: I'm fantastic.

Let's dig right into it. Who are you?

Where do you come from?

Where did this all start?

Who is Cynthia and why is your Twitter @cynthiaLIVE?

CJ: Growth wise I started in live streaming, which is why I am Cynthia LIVE.

I worked for the first-ever live stream social media, the first technology developed for that purpose anyway.

The company was called Stickam and it had about 10 million registered users and an app that made no money, because it was before the time when apps and live streaming were the big things.

I used Cynthia LIVE sort of as representing the company and myself, and then just kept it moving forward because it worked and I had spent a pretty decent amount of time building on it.

There is another Cynthia Johnson that has performed with Depeche Mode and these other bands, and she's also live very often.

I wasn't really thinking ahead, but in the end, it is working out.

RF: That's cool, the live ties in with the live speaking, all that kind of stuff.

If you were going to describe to a 6-year old what you do in real life, how would you do that?

What is it to own and run a company that helps with branding and digital marketing, broken down into the 6-year old terminology?

CJ: We help people tell stories so that they can connect with their right customer, the perfect customer for that.

RF: I love it, storytelling. I can understand that.

Have you always been a storyteller?

Before "Live" happened, where you the live party, action happening wherever you were?

CJ: Definitely. I was always in speech debates, theater, I worked for plenty of different live shows and live events.

I grew up in Las Vegas actually and I worked for quite a bit of the shows out there in high school and then after. I was an improv for four or five years.

The first time I went to college I studied stage combat, so stunt choreography and phonetics, and then acting, which I ended up really not enjoying at all.

It turned out I don't really like telling other people's stories, unless they were actively involved in them.

So yeah, I think for me, I was always really curious and curious people ask a lot of questions.

When you ask a lot of questions, you kind of develop the ability to tell a better story.

Ryan Foland with Cynthia Johnson - Quote on telling a better story - World of Speakers Podcast (Navy) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

That's kind of my background, but yeah, I've always been interested in this and doing this.

RF: Do you find that any of the combat training and stage antics that you had ties into how you perform live now?

CJ: Absolutely. It's an awareness of the other person on stage or the other people in the audience.

I'm certified in rapier dagger knife hand to hand broadsword.

RF: Badass!

Awesome, I love martial arts, I've done them my whole life too, so we are kindred spirits, yeah.

CJ: Oh great.

Well, then you know that if you're swinging a broadsword at someone's head you need to be very aware of where they are and where their energy is and where their balance is, because you're one step away from not being a great day for everybody.

So yes, I think that has definitely helped, and through the combat stuff, I learned Wing Chun, I don't know if you're familiar with Wing Chun?

RF: Yeah, I am familiar with it, I haven't studied it though.

CJ: That was really helpful, because in that case you're really just taught to understanding the balance and energy of someone else.

I think that even if I am aware of it or unaware of it at any given time, I'm definitely always trying to find a balance through energy especially in a panel situation.

You do need to understand where the energy in the room is and how it's being absorbed and understood by the audience.

RF: I just have a visual of a bunch of people on a panel with broadswords and their unawareness of each other, because people just talk over each other and then they maybe don't even listen to the other people, it's like a broadsword panel fight.

I just have this vision in my head.

CJ: Yeah, that's actually great to think of it that way. If everyone had a broadsword— what would that panel be like?

RF: It's funny, I think that if everybody did have a broadsword, only one person can talk at a time during a panel, and I think that when you're on a panel and you're not talking, sometimes you forget that you still have a broadsword.

I can see a fun little commercial or film production, we might have to get together and stage something next time we're at an event, I'll bring some broadswords, and we can stage a little example, it can be a lesson.

CJ: Right, it sounds like a lot of fun.

RF: I did not know that you had the martial art background, and I think the martial arts plus the stage training and the actor awareness— that makes a lot of sense for your confidence to be a pioneer really when it comes to the live space.

And then even just being able to navigate everything from a panel to a keynote with a broadsword.

I'm going to buy you a broadsword that's engraved or something and I am going to send it to you, so watch out.

CJ: That would be very expensive to ship.

RF: You're based in L.A. right?

CJ: I am, I am in Santa Monica.

RF: You travel quite a bit, right?

CJ: I do, more so recently than ever before. Because I've been going the distance as they sing in that one song.

RF: Going for speed, all alone, all alone, in a private jet, flying overseas.

CJ: Yeah, exactly. Last year I did 35 events in 12 countries.

RF: Wow, that's a baller right there!

CJ: Well you know, you launch a business:-- and there's a couple of different ways you could invest depending on your business, and moving around and getting the word out as you build on other things was really,

"Okay, this year we're going to invest a lot in the business development."

The more people see you, the better, that's how you build relationships, that's how you push things forward.

And so I spend the year doing that while building the business which I knew would be exhausting, and it was. My co-founder and I both didn't really sleep very much.

But now we're in a place where we know where to spend our time and we understand and are kind of reaping the benefit of it.

RF: It just makes me think of the 3 T's, one of my favorite concepts in business, which is the fact that you have Time, Treasure and Talent. Those are the ways that you can invest.

In my mind, I had this vision of like this treasure chest of all the stuff that you have and then you have a limited amount of time and then the talent of your ability to swing the broadsword essentially.

Within the Time, Treasure and Talent, when you're talking about investing, it sounds like that's what you were struggling with.

I think a lot of people might get too spread out, but you really invest in your time and talent into getting that face to face, that exposure being seen.

CJ: Exactly, and I would bring people with me. So the best way to get to know someone is to be—

RF: Travel with them? You really get know people when you travel with them.

CJ: You really do, and I think it's important to understand the people that you're working with, especially in the early stages, really, really well.

Because not only are you going to make great friendships and relationships that last a lifetime with people that are probably going to do amazing things, but you're also really understanding your customer and what they're really looking for and what value you can really bring to the table.

Then that helped us build our teams, it's like,

"Okay, we know we're going to need more of this, one thing or another because we understand our market, we understand the people that we want to be working with."

RF: So what you are essentially doing, the storytelling component, you're helping with the personal brand, but also with sort of the digital marketing behind it. Is that right?

You are kind of the unique blend between the two.

CJ: Right, my co-founder and I, our backgrounds are in digital marketing, so SEO, social media, website design, development, agency work, all the way down to business intelligence and call center tracking and actual call center training.

So we worked in healthcare insurance and they are really not so sexy.

RF: Big numbers, lots of scalability, you get a system that works right and then you turn up the volume kind of thing.

CJ: Right, and you know you can provide value in those places.

But then we sort of saw this evolution happening in digital marketing, which I would argue, is just marketing.

It was that real time, real stories that involve people within an organization or the founders, entrepreneurs, executives, like the authority built around of businesses, and also the way people were connecting with brands.

It's definitely starting to evolve into this thing where they want to know who's attached, they don't want to be marketed to with these influencers all the time, it's becoming more obvious.

For example, let’s say someone you like, and trusts works for Starbucks and they host a Live Event on Facebook for the birthday: there is a cake, and they're excited to be celebrating their birthday—and how much they love the company. Something like this could just change your perspective.

So we really started diving into this idea of how can you build upon the skill set talents and the personality of individuals involved with an organization to help build that brand and tell the story in a way that drives growth, new business, and retention.

Ryan Foland with Cynthia Johnson - Quote on building a brand - World of Speakers Podcast (Blue) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

RF: That was the best sentence ever. That was great, I love that.

And it really speaks to what seems to be this emerging trend that there is authenticity in real stories and not just sort of paid per view for influencing.

Yet, everyone wants to become an influencer and you're sort of serving that marketplace but bringing them back down to real people and real stories in real time.

I think that's kind of the triple real.

CJ: Yes, exactly, it's the triple real.

RF: R3.

CJ: Yes.

RF: There is a new theory for it.

Okay, very cool, and here's a random thing— you said Starbucks and you have marketing. Now, I heard this at one point in my life and I want to get your opinion on it.

You know how people take pictures of their Starbucks drinks when their name is spelled wrong, and they share it?

They think it's funny because it's either an obvious misspelling or just a blatant name that's like an excuse for them to be like, "Oh my gosh, that happened to me."

I was told that some Starbucks would have employees do that on purpose just to get that organic exposure of someone who got their name wrong because it's not that bad of negative publicity that gets it.

Have you ever heard that before and what are your thoughts on that as a strategy?

CJ: I have never heard that before.

What I love about that is the autonomy that the individual Starbucks locations are given in order to make those decisions.

RF: Right, alright, so next time you see a post out of Starbucks or with Starbucks that is misspelled— think about it. I like that.

CJ: Yeah, my cup always comes back saying Christina or Sylvia.

RF: And have you ever been so compelled to take a picture and share it?

CJ: This is a little insane to me, this is terrible, but normally when I go to Starbucks I'm either picking my order up after I ordered on the app, or I am in a drive-through and both instances, I don't notice in time to do that.

RF: Okay good, fair enough, that's cool, you're too busy to be posting pictures about wrong names, but the wrong name still happened to you, so it's like half of the theory.

CJ: You don't want to be driving and posting pictures.

RF: I am sure there will be a Netflix series soon about this whole thing and we can figure it out then.

I think people have a good idea of your background. I think that your improv is coming out with your humor and your sidebars.

You'll say something and then like a little pause and then you comment on it, you are like your own little narrator, it's good, I like it.

So let's talk about speaking. I mean hey, we're here with the World of Speakers and speaking comes naturally to some, not naturally to others.

What I think is amazing about it as an art form is that you can always get better, just like most things you invest time into.

So, for a limited amount of time, if you could share your wisdom with the world, amazing nuggets that have either helped you or that you help other people with when it comes to the tactics of speaking.

What would be some of that advice?

What are some of the key things, maybe the top 3 insights that no one else told you soon enough?

CJ: What people don't tell you is that you have to do it.

You have to put yourself in sometimes the most uncomfortable situation because you don't really know what to fix until you've done it the first time, that is hands down the most important.

No matter how much you prepare, the first thing is getting up there and doing it.

Ryan Foland with Cynthia Johnson - Quote on getting up on stage  - World of Speakers Podcast (Black) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

The second thing is the content itself and the type of presentation you're doing.

Performing a monologue written by someone else or a speech written by someone else is very different than preparing a case study on a new topic and presenting it in front of people that do exactly what you do.

A motivational speech is a different type of audience than a large workshop or maybe it's something controversial, maybe it's political.

So break down who is in the audience and how do you feel about that. Don't worry about what they think right away.

How do you feel about being in front of those people and telling those things, if it was a one on one with the best person in your industry, would you feel comfortable telling them your case study?

If it was someone who would go to great inspirational speech, would you feel comfortable looking them in the eye and telling them that exact speech, one on one?

Because that's basically what you're doing from their perspective and so the more comfortable you are in understanding how you feel about the way they are going to take in that information, the more you can work on your delivery of it.

Ryan Foland with Cynthia Johnson - Quote on talking straight to each audience - World of Speakers Podcast (Navy) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

Because they're different, an audience of 3 for some people is way more difficult than an audience of 300 and vice versa.

You've got to take it down to that one individual person and really speak to that.

And then, when you actually get on stage, hopefully, you've prepared and what do they say, repetition is repetition, which means to rehearse to do it over and over and over and over again.

World of Speakers Podcast with Ryan Foland interview with Linda Williams | Powered by SpeakerHub

That is 100% true because if you don't have the words stored away, trust me, there were many times where I did not have the words stored away, you find yourself in a very vulnerable position and now you're vulnerable, you're vulnerable and you're on stage.

Then when you sit back down and you look at your twitter feed and people are tweeting at you or they're not tweeting at you which is really unnerving. So you want to prepare that.

The most important thing is really to pause, make sure that you are pausing.

Pause make it uncomfortable, if you want to really understand how to best use a pause in a presentation, I would study popular comedians because they're really good at it.

RF: Yeah, and you actually had a nice little dramatic pause when you said "Pause".

CJ: Pauses are overlooked and they're so important.

RF: I was just pausing there.

There is some truth about the silence that people are scared of and they just continue to talk on top of themselves because they don't want to have any signs at all, then all of a sudden, they run through everything too much.

Alright, so we've got some good stuff to unpack here, we have tip #1— you've got to do it.

Tip #2— I'm going to say you have to go bowling, and I'll explain to you what I think that means.

And then, tip #3 is a rehearsal, maybe we can call that swinging the sword.

Then the tip #4 is— a pause.

CJ: That's great, that's very good.

RF: Alright, so number one, just do it.

This idea that you have to experience it to have the ability to find out what is or what will go wrong.

My question to you is— tactically, how does someone go out there and take these chances without embarrassing themselves?

Or what are some ways for people to get this practice without spilling the opportunities that they have?

Do you have anything that you do, do you go to open mic night and practice your case studies in front of a bunch of people?

What are some things people can do to get out there and do it before they hit that main stage?

CJ: Good thing is that you usually don't hit the main stage without doing it, that's a benefit.

And then what I say is make sure that the content, so let's say the case study, for instance, is amazing.

Make sure that you really know the content and you understand what you're talking about, that's it.

And then, throw yourself in the fire, go and find all of the conferences.

Because when you're bringing quality information and people are learning something, then the delivery part can be overlooked because it's not really what they are there for, they're there for the content.

Ryan Foland with Cynthia Johnson - Quote on the importance of content - World of Speakers Podcast (Blue) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

It's a really great type of conference or type of the event to practice on, because it's very difficult to present your own ideas in front of a room of people that do exactly what you do.

So you are putting yourself in already the most difficult situation, or one of the most.

RF: So trial by fire, and I like this idea that if the content can outweigh the delivery and if you have your content nailed down, then you can stumble through and get your feet burnt a couple of times.

CJ: Right, absolutely, because what those types of conferences are doing, first of all, they're going to pick you based on the content that you pitched.

The case study, the information whatever it is, that's what they want.

My first conference ever was an SEO conference, it was an interesting experience, very unnerving almost.

But the content, it wasn't like people were videotaping me, I went up there, semi-awkwardly presented this deck and then I put it on SlideShare and all anyone really cared about was,

"Where do I get the deck?".

I learned a lot about what would be difficult for me more or less, where I needed to improve based on having done it, but I didn't lose any—

RF: You didn't lose any toes or anything?

Like you got up there, you got your feet burned but you didn't burn off any toes?

CJ: Right, because people really appreciating the content, it was useful, they could take it back to their job or their home, whatever, and they could implement this idea.

I was accessible, they could talk to me and they didn't really want to know, "Hey you stuttered on slide 3, was it because you were lying?"

They just wanted to know more about the content, so it's a really great place for only to dive in and truly understand the content you are delivering, and the industries that you'd want to be in, but also a great place to test, you get up there and be yourself.

Just because you are let's say this sort of an expert in something, and you can present it, it doesn't mean you're a presenter.

And so what comes first— hopefully, the expert part comes before the presenting part, and not the other way around.

RF: Right, okay. I just got a vision of a chocolate bunny in my head, and here's why— so you know the Easter time chocolate bunnies?

CJ: Oh yeah.

RF: So, I'm attributing the content to the chocolate and the performance to the bunny.

Now I've gotten some really, really cool looking bunnies and the chocolate is terrible, right. You know it's the stuff that's just weird and cheap because it leaves a weird film in your mouth.

Versus an ugly looking piece of chocolate that's absolutely amazing, which is maybe not the best performance or delivery on the chocolate, and it doesn't look like a bunny, but it's amazing chocolate, and you're like, "Give me some more of that."

CJ: Yes, that's exactly it.

RF: And if you've ever seen, they will have these chocolate bunnies that are huge, they are like 2 ft chocolate bunnies and you're like, "Wow it's such a cool big chocolate bunny," but secretly you know the PowerPoint sucks inside of that thing.

CJ: It's also kind of like the giant gummy bears versus the regular ones.

The giant ones look so cool, but they are terrible, there is something about eating that that is just absolutely disgusting.

But you kind of want it around, because it is so big.

Yeah, it's okay, I think you're absolutely right, it's better to perfect the chocolate before the design.

RF: Before building a bigger and fancier bunny.

Okay, so let's stick with these fun analogies here.

So step number 2, you talked about content, but you really talked about this one-on-one and this sort of you and this one person instead of you and 3, and instead of you and 3000.

So I thought about bowling.

I had a buddy, Cameron Brown from Australia in town, and he brings these like networking meetings where people do bowling together. And bowling is so crazy, because it's just you and the pins, like that's it.

And so I was imagining like having these 12 pins of setup and you as a speaker, you're kind of like in front of them, and if you roll the ball down or throw the ball down initially, like your mentality is maybe that like you're just trying to smash them all out of the park.

But when you do that, you usually are left with like one or 2, and then you're focused on like,

"Crap, now I have to take all of my attention, all of my focus, everything I can do, line it perfectly to just hit that one pin."

But it's like if you would have taken that approach initially, and you would have bowled just trying to hit the one pin perfectly instead of trying to knock them all down, that's the visual I got in my head.

It's have your audience as a whole bunch of bowling ball pins, but take a moment and just think what you would do to I guess knock out one person with a bowling ball, right?

Ryan Foland - Quote on reaching your audience - World of Speakers Podcast (Navy) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

CJ: Yeah.

That's exactly it, because one person, that one pin is going to knock all the other pins over, right, that's the idea?

I used to work with a hypnotist, because I was a theater manager for a hypnotist.

RF: That is awesome, stop, let's just talk about that for the rest of the time.

CJ: The idea is that this power of suggestion, if you can get to one person—

Have you ever been on an event, and the speaker is kind of make you like, "Is this uncomfortable," so you start to look around to see if it is uncomfortable or if you're the one that's out of place.

That's what everybody does.

If you can get to one person, like truly get to them, then you have people that are like "Well that guy gets it, maybe I should pay attention more."

RF: Right, or you have the pose, they have like the hand on the chin, or like they're taking notes or something, you're like, "What am I missing here?" And then you kind of hone in more, right?

CJ: Yes, because you respect that other person.

RF: And you're like, "Maybe I shouldn't be checking my twitter feed, maybe I should be finding something that Cynthia says to tweet out," right?

CJ: Yes, or like when you're the only person that didn't laugh, all of a sudden you're listening extra, you know.

RF: Yeah, the pause all of a sudden you don't get it, like there's a dramatic pause and you find yourself thinking everybody laughs and you are like, "Damn it! Ha ha ha."

Okay, so we're transitioning to the next which is rehearsing.

And it seems like the rehearsing is going to help you build a better chocolate, the rehearsing is going to get you better at bowling, and really the rehearsing you could almost add into each one of these tips.

If you're going to rehearse to do it more, if you're going to rehearse better with your content, if you're going to rehearse better at bowling, I love that as like an addition to all of these.

CJ: Yeah, I mean, the way I look at it is— you are not always going to be overly prepared for everything, that's just life and things will get in the way sometimes.

And that's okay, and you learn to deal with those two.

But you also wouldn't show up at the Olympics without training. And it's really unfair to not at least be—

RF: It's not fair to not be prepared, right?

I mean you have to respect the audience to some extent.

CJ: Exactly.

And that's why if you're delivering the content, because that is worth, it's what they are there for.

But if you're going there to deliver a keynote, or you are going there to deliver an idea or maybe you don't have a deck or something that they can take with them later.

That what I would say is, you're in the big leagues now, you need to be prepared.

Ryan Foland with Cynthia Johnson - Quote on why rehearsing is important - World of Speakers Podcast (Blue) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

And rehearsing that could be having one on one— like, my grandmother is a great listener.

RF: Stuffed animals are too, yeah.

CJ: Call your grandma, and just ask, "What do you think?"

And then just run through the ideas, you don't have to constantly be like presenting it, you should go through that as well, but just run through the ideas and the words in your head.

RF: That's funny, you talk about your parents or grandma, the grandma lifeline is not here, unfortunately, but my parents are and so I'm famous for like giving them a call and then just sort of working through ideas.

If I've got a TEDx Talk coming up, I'll just sort of take a section of it and just spout it out over the phone and they're both there listing on a speaker phone. Then I'll get all of their comments after the fact.

It's a small way of getting feedback and going through it.

I find that that helps me a lot, so I like that you call your parents too, and practice speaking to them.

CJ: I don't know if they like it.

At one time, I went through a 6-hour drive while I practiced Suddenly Seymour in the back seat of the car.

RF: That's good.

This is all great stuff, let's transition into how we can take our chocolate bunny skills, our bowling skills, our talking to parents and singing in car skills and then monetize that.

Sometimes there's a direct correlation, you get paid to speak.

Other times, it's you fly out somewhere, people hear you talk and then all of a sudden now they're sold on your business.

Has your success been more getting paid to speak or your speaking results in more business?

CJ: It's actually been a combination of the two, because I also speak in a workshop format

For corporate businesses, they will often bring me into to run through a workshop-style sort of presentation.

And that's something that they would pay for, or educational institutions specifically pay for things and then there's the business aspect of it, our business benefits through speaking.

RF: So let's take those as two different pies.

Okay, so if you had to name the type of pie that was a workshop, what type of pie would it be?

CJ: Is this like a cherry pie?

RF: I don't know.

I'm a big analogy guy as you can tell, so if we're looking at two different types of pies, one is a pie that represents doing a workshop, and one is a pie that represents doing more of a casual conversation or things that you're not getting paid for, but leads to business.

So what kind of pie comes to your mind if it's a workshop?

CJ: The workshop pie is more like an apple pie.

Everybody can enjoy that pie, we all know what we're going to get. It's straightforward.

RF: Okay, I like it, yes.

CJ: On the other side, it's more like key lime pie, you don't really know if it's going to be too tart, or do they whip the pie.

I don't even know what goes into a key lime pie, sometimes I like it, sometimes don't.

RF: Right, but at the end of the day, people, they're going to maybe end up eating it and then it sort of sparks their interest in key lime or not.

But everybody likes apple pie, we know what we're going to get, so I love this.

Secretly you're like,"What the hell is he doing, but okay."

Let's break down a couple slices of this apple pie.

How do you get to be the person that is called into corporations to be paid to put on these workshops?

Rewind from maybe your experience or if you don't want to give away the secret sauce, how did that start?

What did you do or what can people do to become that person?

CJ: Oh well, you don't underestimate the power of anyone in an organization.  

So, for instance, you would be surprised at how much persuasion power interns have or entry-level employees.

Ryan Foland with Cynthia Johnson - Quote on the power of persuasion  - World of Speakers Podcast (Black) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

Communicating with those people, because when they do host these events, usually it's, "How do we brush up on skills that people who've been here a while may or may not have."

Versus, bringing in a speaker to educate the Gen Z's of their office, like that's not going to happen.

They are already looking to the younger generation for information, so there's that.

I think the other part is not being afraid to think outside the box in how you connect and communicate with people.

I respond to so many emails, I put my email on everything, every social media account, every website, email me directly, I will always open it, the very least, and if I missed it, email me again, because maybe it was spam.

Most of these conferences actually come directly through people finding me and emailing me, use their searching for content, because I talk about these things all of the time.

I try to paint the picture of what I do so that they don't feel like it's a stretch by asking me to come by.

And then I create an email, obviously media@cynthia, and then I am my own media person.

RF: Right, I like that.

I'm going to throw you under the bus here, for everybody listening who's interested to connect with you, on your Twitter, in your profile, there's something in particular that it says— what do you think it is?

CJ: Think bigger?

RF: No. But that's good, I like that you're thinking bigger about this. No, it says—

CJ: Let's connect?

RF: Yeah, more specifically it says, "I have five minutes".

You say, "I have 5 minutes, let's connect," that's the coolest thing ever.

And this is exactly the type of slice of an apple pie that you're delivering to people.

You're saying, "Let's hang out and have apple pie or moringa pie or just a pie, just you make an effort, reach out to me, all my formation is here and I've got 5 minutes," you're like giving everybody 5 minutes.

CJ: Absolutely, I think being not only approachable, but clear in that I want you to reach to me if you think there's something you have to say, or you have an idea.

I'm not saying that I can obviously help everybody or work with everybody.

RF: But it ties into this idea that you never underestimate who you're talking to and always be able to connect and communicate with people.

I think that that's a really huge takeaway is accessibility and for those people who are maybe,

"Well I just would need to talk with HR because they're the ones who are going to book me."

It's like, no, get in front of an intern and give them access to yourself or whatever, I think that's cool.

CJ: Thank you, I appreciate it, it has definitely helped me people reach out a lot.

RF: I feel selfish because I'm getting like 45 minutes of your time, so this is great.

Okay, so this idea of not underestimating the people in the company, then you've got this creatively connecting.

Do you actively go out and pitch companies or do you wait for them to come to you?

If somebody was trying to break into that space of getting paid by a large corporation, what would you expect for their approach to be successful?

CJ: I don't actually go to the companies. I don't do that at all.

I actually just build it through my network of people.

You want to find the center of influence, where do all of the companies hang out, where are they looking?

I am on the advisory board now for a company that at the time when I got involved was a startup and they wanted to do continued education for fortune 1000 executives.

And so now I go and I host roundtables and it's anywhere from 12, 16 at the roundtable or 45, 50 CMOs at a conference venue.

You start kind of planting the seed and being available and connecting and even if you don't connect with anyone in that space, other companies see that you're at this thing, with these companies and then again the accessibility part, and you have to continuously evolve and change and deliver something of value.

So a presentation I gave 3 years ago, 4 years ago is absolutely nowhere near the same thing I'm doing now, because it's irrelevant.

I think that's really important.

Ryan Foland with Cynthia Johnson - Quote on being available - World of Speakers Podcast (Blue-Grey) _ Powered by SpeakerHub

And then make sure that the things that you are doing are known, because if you don't tell people they will never know and if they don't know, then you're kind of being taken out of the pool of people who would be given this type of opportunity.

RF: To become top of mind, and that's really branding at the end of the day, right?

It's helping to choose the information that people see, so that they formulate the idea about you and eventually you become top of mind when they think about a certain thing that you want to be known for?

CJ: Right', that's exactly it.

You don't have to go to everyone, you just have to find those that are the center of influence, the people that connect with those people and there's always someone, and there's always some way.

Never get frustrated, because it doesn't happen overnight.

RF: Okay, so here are a couple of little pop quiz questions for you, I have never done this before but I'm going to do this— so this is selfishly for people that are out there that are listening going,

"Okay, I want to share some selfies."

So yes or no, stage selfie and then share it out?

CJ: For me, it's “No”, if it's just me on stage.

“Yes” if I'm off stage with someone else, and they are posting it on their social media.

RF: Okay, cool.

So now a panel with or without broadswords, selfie with other panel members and sharing that out?

CJ: Yeah, I'm more about the picture, like someone taking a picture.

I would have someone take a picture.

RF: Okay so you'd be better off having somebody else set it up and then having them tweeted on your behalf?

CJ: I would tweet it, but I don't want it to be a selfie.

RF: Okay.

What about letting people know before the event, "Hey, I'm speaking at this event," yes or no and best practices for that?

Because sometimes it comes across as a little doushey, I mean let's be honest.

CJ: Yes, if you're going to either:

a) they can purchase tickets or

b) you're going to provide content from the presentation after and you're letting them know to look for it later.

RF: That's a good spin right there, like, "Hey, I've got this presentation coming up, I'm going to make the content available to everyone afterwards."

CJ: Right.

RF: Okay, so let's see another one on this sharing out.

During the event, and you are very active on Twitter which is great as well, how do you communicate to the audience without sounding too needy for them to live tweet and take pictures and share stuff?

How do you communicate that to people?

CJ: Well, I just put my Twitter handle on the slide, and I sort of leave it up to them.

I used to do a Snapchat presentation though where I would have everyone turn on their "Find a friend" app and then add me and then I would instruct them all to send me money via Snapchat.

RF: I like that.

Now technically speaking here, I just want to get specific— when you put your handle up on the slide, do you put it up on every side throughout or just in the beginning to let them do it and hopefully they'll know and take a picture?

CJ: I put it on the beginning and then the last side is "Let's connect" and I put my email and my Twitter handle.

RF: Okay, cool.

This is all good stuff because I think that's a challenge, it's like you want to share and promote what's going on, but you don't want to come across as too self-promotional, and I think what I'm hearing is that it's always better when somebody else is probably building you up, so the idea is probably to help encourage those people or get them to do it, and then you can take and share things.

CJ: Yeah, I think that the idea is like thinking of it as a romantic relationship, it's always about how the other person feels and you don't want to inflate your own ego too much.

RF: Right, very cool.

Well, this kind of brings us to the end of our wicked ride here.

We didn't really get into the key lime pie too much, but I think that what you're talking about here, the apple pie is relevant for that as well, I think those all apply to it.

So anything exciting that you want to share with people that is either coming up in the near future or where would you like people to best connect with you, where do people start?

CJ: So it's not really near future, but I have a book coming out.

RF: That's cool, can you share the title or what it's about?

CJ: Yes, so it's a mixture of personal branding for the more modest person.

RF: Okay, all right.

CJ: The title is to be determined.

RF: That's actually not a bad title, just write that, "To be determined." I'm just saying.

CJ: Wow, you know, that's great.

RF: Because if you think about it, somebody who's maybe not that outwardly gregarious or they are kind of conservative, "To be determined" is kind of a cool catchphrase, I like it.

CJ: Oh that's great. I'll have to get the rights from you later.

RF: No, that's fine, just give me five more minutes some time and I'll give it to you, that will be a good trade-off.

Do people just check out your website or do you prefer a certain platform or what?

CJ: They can email me [email protected], you can find me at @cynthiaLIVE on Twitter and Instagram and my company is Bell

So yeah, just Cynthia LIVE.

RF: And you can go get 5 minutes with Cynthia.

I'm going to let you know that right now, hit her up for those five minutes and, hopefully, you guys can connect and eat pie together or something cool.

Hey, what great information.

For me, the biggest takeaway I think is really the chocolate bunny theory that you have to have your content locked in and that's what's going to make you stand out, people will look past the delivery, but once you get your content down, then go bowling and focus on knocking one pin and the rest will follow.

So Cynthia, great stuff for the World of Speakers.

I'm proud I have had you as a guest and continue to look forward to working with you and maybe we'll see each other on the stage sometime, who knows.

CJ: Yeah, absolutely, thank you so much for having me, this a lot of fun.

RF: It was a lot of fun, we laughed a little bit too much probably, but that's okay.

Alright, everybody stay tuned for other episodes, and I'm going to make sure we have all of the links that Cynthia mentioned in the show notes and stuff like that.

Cynthia, you have a nice live day.

CJ: Alright, thanks, bye.


A bit about World of Speakers

World of Speakers is  a bi-monthly podcast that helps people find their own voice, and teaches them how to use their voice to develop a speaking business.

We cover topics like: what works versus what doesn't, ideas on how to give memorable presentations, speaking tips, and ideas on how to build a speaking business.

Connect with Cynthia Johnson:

Did you enjoy the show? We’d love to know! Leave us a review on iTunes by following this link.

Listen to more interviews with expert speakers.


Average: 5 (2 votes)


See also:

  • World of Speakers E.112:  Mike Olsen | Turning Life's Challenges Into Speaking Opportunities
    World of Speakers podcasts

    World of Speakers E.112: Mike Olson | Turning Life’s Challenges Into Speaking Opportunities

  • World of Speakers E.111:  Neil Sahota | Own the A.I. Revolution
    World of Speakers podcasts

    World of Speakers E.111: Neil Sahota | Own the A.I. Revolution

  • World of Speakers E.110:  Berke Brown | Mastering the Art of Living
    World of Speakers podcasts

    World of Speakers E.110: Berke Brown | Mastering the Art of Living