Being an effective professional speaker is not just about polishing your voice or being well-versed in vocabulary. It is about finding your voice, staying true to it, and getting to know the people who are going to respond to it. Joining Alicia Dunams today is Robert Kennedy III, a professional speaker, life coach, and author who has just released his new book, Find Your Voice: 28 Secrets to Inspire You to Speak Up. Robert talks to Alicia about discovering your voice and using it to inspire and influence your audience. Tune in to this episode and start speaking up and letting your authentic voice resonate in people’s hearts.
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Discovering Your Voice With Robert Kennedy III
I’m super excited to be introducing Robert Kennedy III. It’s great to have you here, Robert.
It’s good to be in the house.
I was thinking about this, Robert. How long have we known each other?
As of 2020, it’s been about five years at least. It’s probably longer. Once you hit past 40, stuff is a blur.
I’m excited about having you on the show because I know that you are an author and you have come out with a book called Find Your Voice.
Yes, Find Your Voice: 28 Secrets to Inspire You to Speak Up.
What really attracts people is the authenticity of your voice. Click To Tweet
That’s what we’re going to jump into in this episode. Specifically, I’m going to throw this question out here, why did you write a book?
I wrote my first book simply because I had stuff in my head and I figured it was worth coming out. I didn’t know what to do with it. I wrote because I was actually in the middle of a personal development process myself. I’d invited some people to come online with me and do some personal growth stuff. I started doing some different things. After we did that, when people were asking for more, I decided that I needed to have a place to record all of this information that I’d gone through with everyone. That was the process and the ‘why’ for my first book.
What’s the name of your first book?
28 Days To a New Me.
You like 28.
Yeah, I do. It was on purpose this time. The first one wasn’t so much on purpose. It was around habit-forming. The reason that I wrote my first book, or that I did that first activity, was that I was reading something online and it said, “Do you know it takes about 28 days to form a new habit?” I said, “Let’s test that.” I formed a group with people and we committed to doing one thing, the same thing every day for 28 days to see if it would become easier. For a lot of people, that was exercise. For some people, it was, “Let me see if I can say one nice word to my spouse every day for 28 days.” There were a lot of different things. That was where the 28 came. After that experience, quite a few people were calling me Mr. 28 Days. I started to use the number 28 quite a bit after that.
When it comes to finding your voice, you talked about going through your own personal development process. That’s how you referred to it. What does a personal development process mean to Robert?
It’s one of those times where you wake up a little bit. You reach a moment in your life where you’re asking a lot of questions, re-evaluating where you are and what you’re doing to grow yourself or to move forward in life. There is some sense of dissatisfaction, so you go searching. You look for that thing that is going to help inspire you, motivate you and move you to that next level. It was that journey that allowed me to stumble upon habit-forming transformation, and personal growth and development.
It wasn’t a particular process, an event that you attended or conference. It wasn’t Tony Robbins or anything like that.
It wasn’t Tony Robbins, it came out of a conversation with my coach at the time. I had hired a business coach because my business was struggling and I wanted to accelerate the business. That business blew up and I ended up closing that business. The funny thing is that the business blew up. I ended up closing that business but my experience with the coach was personally transformational. It caused me to think about many different things. To be honest, I don’t think about the closing of the business as a negative thing. It’s probably something that needed to happen for me to pivot and open up into some of the other experiences that I was able to have after that. It was several conversations with my coach where he was questioning or having me question my mindset. Going through that process with him in a way that nobody had ever challenged me before was amazing for me. Moving into personal development and focusing on it was the genesis of getting into recording the journey and coming up with that first book.
That’s the importance of coaches, business and life coaches, success coaches or performance coaches is that they shine a mirror at you in terms of pointing out your blind spots. They’re a disruption. You want a coach, that is a disruption. I coached people through my Bestseller in a Weekend Program. I also do business and success and life coaching as well for clients. People don’t see their blind spots. That’s why they’re called blind spots. I wrote a post on Instagram, speaking about how we get to unravel and unlearn what we do every day. Your book talks about 28 days to create a habit. We have been habitualized essentially, in terms of we are on automatic that we don’t even know whether we’re coming or going and it takes someone outside to shine a light on us.
For me, it was an eye-opening journey. I had heard of coaches but I didn’t know what the coaching process was or did. Sometimes you hear about coaches and life coaches and it’s woo-woo for a lot of people. Esoterically, they think it’s this new-agey type of thing that people are going to bring you through. No, it is this process of being introspective and looking inside, knowing and learning about who you are and how you’ve been operating all of this time blindly in so many ways. It’s something that I encourage everybody. I’m not telling you to go hire a life coach now. It may just be a mentor. It may be somebody that you can have a conversation with that allows you to look inside, pour out, discover and find stuff that you didn’t even know was there because it’s growth.
Get comfortable looking at yourself in the eye in the mirror, speak to yourself, and accept your greatness. Click To Tweet
Whatever is holding you back, it’s you. You’re holding yourself back. As we transition in talking about the voice and using your voice, the one thing in the women’s leadership work that I do is I find that some women sometimes have issues in using their voice. Do you find that with men as well?
I don’t know if I find it as much with men. I think men use the wrong voice more so than not using their voice. Men are conditioned a little bit differently than women. We tend to show up with a voice of authority, at least attempted authority and it places this shield around us. We’re less likely to be vulnerable and easily transparent. Even when we share things, it’s even more guarded. I’m speaking in stereotypes and generalities but that’s what you find a lot more because that’s what society has said for a long time. You’re the warrior, protector, and provider. There shouldn’t be any chinks in your armor. There shouldn’t be anything that looks like weakness because if it does, somebody can take advantage of you. That’s the voice that we are told.
You’ve got Barry White, you’ve got to have this deep gravelly thing that incites fear and brings attention. You grow up feeling like that’s what you aspire to. That’s not a bad thing. I like deep voices. I like it when my voice is deep. From a human perspective, an emotional perspective, or the perspective of living and understanding yourself, you don’t have to fit inside of that one space and that’s not the space that your voice always has to come from. Sometimes your voice can come from a space of high emotion. Sometimes your voice can come from a space of softness. Sometimes your voice can come from a space of, “Help me.” Those are some of the things that we talk about that’s helpful for men to understand.
In your book, Find Your Voice, what are some of your suggestions for the audience out there in terms of finding their voice?
One of the things that we talk about is the process of discovery. Sometimes we live on autopilot and we don’t understand the things that we have gone through that helped to solidify or foundationalize our voice. We speak and act a certain way. It’s not until we understand the experiences that we had grown up with that causes us to speak, act, and operate in the way that we do. One of the big things that I talk about first is understanding yourself as a child. What were some of the skills that you had? What were some of the steps that you used to learn specific skills, going back and breaking down some of the early processes? Understanding the processes allows you to put things in a certain way so that you don’t see them as fear if that makes sense. The child walks or goes through the process of walking. As a child falls, nobody looks at the child and says, “You idiot, you didn’t get it. Get up.” They don’t say that. It’s, “They took the first step. It’s their second step.” We lose that as we grow up. It’s going back and looking at some of the things that I did that allow me to develop confidence as a child? How can I link back into those things?
Finding confidence, that’s a key distinction in terms of using your voice. I know you, coach speakers. I know you’re a professional keynote speaker and facilitator for corporate and government clients. I’m curious what your thoughts are on this. There was a time in which you were a trained professional speaker. You had the presence, you were able to speak, share and to be a storyteller. What I’m finding now with social media and what I love about social media is that it democratized the entire process of leadership, influencers and speakers. You’ll have people speaking who don’t fall under that professional speakers’ avatar if you will. I’ll give an example. I love Cardi B. When she speaks, she has a certain presence. She’s a rapper and singer. She has a flavor to what she shares and that’s why I think there’s enough room for everyone. As long as you use your voice, there will be people who listen. For some people, it doesn’t resonate with them and for some people, it does. What are your thoughts as I explore that?
We talk about Cardi B quite a bit in our house. Even if we don’t say her name, we’re walking around the house saying, “Coronavirus.” One of the big things about your voice is not so much the professionalism or the polishedness of your voice. What brings people and attracts people is the authenticity and realness of your voice. Here’s why some people have trouble. It’s not because they are not trained or are not well-versed in vocabulary. Part of the issue is that they’re so afraid of their voice and of what people will say that when they speak, they speak in hesitation. They don’t speak from their heart. They don’t speak through their true self. They don’t speak what’s real and what’s foundational and core to them. They don’t speak from their ultimate sense of value. They speak from a place of fear or trying to please other people. That’s what causes the inauthenticity or people not to listen to them. I look at Cardi B and she is who she is. I love who she is because she’s real. She reminds me of somebody that I could have gone to school with. We would have cracked up and laughed because she was hilarious.
She’s making waves. She’s creating change in the world. She did a fantastic interview with Bernie Sanders. She shows up unapologetically and authentic.
That’s the word, unapologetically. Part of the reason I wrote this book, Find Your Voice, is because of my journey in feeling like I had to say the right things, please people, and be a certain way. Otherwise, people wouldn’t like me. I don’t know if I’ve shared this with you before. I’m a PK. My dad is a pastor. I’m a preacher’s kid. There’s this pressure to live in a certain way, otherwise, they’re going to report you to your parents. They talk about how pastor’s kids are the worst kids or preacher’s kids are bad because they’ve got to go the extra mile to sin or to be the worst they can be. There was always this pressure or this third eye. I’m always looking around the corner at everything because I expected somebody to be there to report on me. For a long time, I attempted to be polished and careful with my voice because I was scared. That led to people saying, “You’re well-spoken.” There was still a wall and a barrier. There was not the connectedness that came through authentic and unapologetic speech.
You were minding your P’s and Q’s because people were watching. You were careful with everything that you said. What I would love to learn is, what are some tips that you have for people out there? You were sharing a little bit, I’d love for you to leave a couple of tips for our audience on finding their voice.
In the book itself, there are a lot of different quotes and I expound on those quotes. One of them is, “Don’t you dare, for one more second, surround yourself with people who are not aware of the greatness you are.” That is Jo Blackwell Preston. One of the reasons many people shy away from their voices is because of who they surround themselves with. If you are in spaces where your voice is not accepted, not heard or where you’re only there so that your voice can sound the same as everybody else that’s in that space, you’ve got to reevaluate your space.
Who do you surround yourself with? This is a great Jim Rohn quote where he says, “You’re the average of the five people closest to you.” I laugh about it. I joke and say, “I’ve got a wife and three kids, that’s four already. I’ve got to be picky about my number five.” Your inner and authentic voice starts with that childhood stuff that we talked about earlier. The next phase of that is who you intentionally surround yourself with. You can begin to plant your flag and stand on something and step into the values and into what you believe in and not be afraid that people are going to push you or criticize you because of those beliefs.
In a lot of cases, your voice is assigned to a specific person. If you’re not speaking, you’re denying someone the opportunity to live. Click To Tweet
That’s important, you are who you surround yourself with. First of all, you can tell when people are fearful or when they’re being inauthentic. You can see it. It’s energy. Everything in life is energy. Energy doesn’t lie. If someone is uncomfortable, you can almost tell. You can tell if someone is uncomfortable speaking in front of their spouse. They make eye contact with you like, “I don’t want to talk about it now.” You are like, “There’s something interesting going on there.” It’s a self-awareness opportunity. If you feel that you cannot speak for a particular situation, you’re like, “I don’t feel safe for some reason.” What would be one thing that you would leave us with?
We’ve been talking all this time about yourself and being able to accept your inner person and reevaluate and evaluate regularly who that person is. I would say get comfortable looking at yourself in the mirror. When I say looking at yourself, I’m not talking about generally looking at yourself. I’m talking about dead in the eyes in the mirror and a lot of us don’t do that. We’re shaving, doing our hair or whatever, and we see ourselves in the mirror but have you ever taken a moment to look yourselves right into the windows of your soul? Have you ever taken that moment? That’s something that is scary for a lot of people. The majority of people that I ask, “Have you taken a moment to do that? Have you done this?” They say, “Sure, I do it every morning.” No, but have you looked yourself in the eye? When you’re able to do that and speak to yourself and say, “I am greatness. I am awesome. I am amazing, I am phenomenal,” then each day, that voice grows stronger. Do that. That’s the thing. Look at you and speak to you and then accept you and love you. That voice will grow greater.
I do women’s leadership retreats and one of the exercises we do is looking in a mirror. That could be one of the most confrontational, triggering and vulnerable moments for someone. Another thing that I use as well is the power of eye-staring, staring into someone else’s eyes. People are super uncomfortable with both of those exercises because we’re on automatic. We know that we look at people but do we look at people but to sit and to deeply stare into someone’s eyes or your own eyes with the mirror, it usually brings people to tears.
You asked me for one last thing but I want to share with you one last story and then we can go from here. I was a science teacher for about ten years. I taught physics and biology. Every year, a student would ask me, “Mr. K, can you explain this?” I will explain the Physics concept and the student would say, “I don’t get it, Mr. K.” I would try to explain it another way. They say, “I don’t get it, Mr. K.” I would find a third way to explain it. “I don’t get it, Mr. K.” Every year, a student would come up across the classroom while one was sitting next to them. They would lean over and they would explain to the student. Quite often, they would use verbatim the exact words that I used. Once they used those words, the other student who didn’t understand would say, “I get it now. Why didn’t you say that, Mr. K?” I’m looking and saying, “That’s exactly what I said.”
The point is that quite often, you’ll speak to someone and the response won’t be what you expect. In a lot of cases, your voice is assigned to a specific person. There are some people who will only respond to certain frequencies, certain energies and certain specific voices. The reason why I encourage people to find their voice and to speak up is that you won’t know who that person is. You won’t know where that frequency is. You won’t know what that is unless you speak authentically and energetically. If you’re not speaking, you’re actually denying someone the opportunity to live.
Where do people find out more about you and your book?
My website is RobertKennedy3.com. You’ll find out information about the book there. You’ll see information on social media. I’m on all social media as @RobertKennedy3 as well.
Robert, it’s great having you and talking about the power of finding your voice.
- Robert Kennedy III
- 28 Days To a New Me
- Bestseller in a Weekend Program
- @RobertKennedy3 – Twitter
About Robert Kennedy III
Most of the interpersonal problems we face can be traced back to one thing…communication. It’s at the core of expressing ideas, sharing experiences and connecting perspectives. It needs to be done with confidence and clarity.
Getting everyone to row in the same direction, at the right time, with the right amount of energy takes POWERFUL COMMUNICATION and PURPOSEFUL LEADERSHIP!
That’s where I come in. I help managers and organizational leaders find the touchpoints to motivate their employees, increase their own personal performance and create more IMPACTING AND PURPOSEFUL leadership through COMMUNICATION.
Some of my workshops include:
– The Voice of A Leader
– Presenting with Power & Authenticity
– Speaking For Influence
– Developing Purposeful Leadership
I help organizations through Keynote Speaking, Small Group Coaching & Consulting, Workshops, and Training Development.
My background as a teacher, trainer, organizational leader and business owner help me to sit squarely in the seats of my clients and create a greater understanding of how to proceed through current challenges.
I’d love to work with you to help you communicate with more confidence, clarity and credibility.
Better communication = Better efficiency = better results = bigger profits
– Leadership Consultation
– Personal Performance & Development
– Corporate Training Development
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