Escaping the Ivory Tower: Stepping into Thought Leadership for Greater Impact with Laura McGuire, EdD: Podcast Ep. 387

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I talk quite a bit on this podcast about “the expert trap” and how so many of us get stuck teaching and training and don’t step into thought leadership.

This applies not only to those of us who are entrepreneurs, but of course to all the academics out there as well (hand raised!).

This episode is a treasure trove of insights for anyone passionate about making a difference through their work, particularly in academia or any field where expertise is a given, but thought leadership can make an even bigger impact. 

My guest is Laura McGuire, Ed.D., a social scientist, educator, and entrepreneur whose journey and work exemplify transformative thought leadership.

Laura’s story is not just inspiring; it’s a call to action for all of us to think bigger and challenge the status quo in our respective fields. 

Laura and I talk about:

  • The Expert Trap vs. Thought Leadership: Learn how professionals in academia, science, and other fields can transcend the confines of being labeled merely as experts to embrace the mantle of thought leadership, encouraging broader thinking and solutions to societal challenges.
  • Laura’s Inspirational Journey: From surviving domestic violence and navigating the challenges of early motherhood as a high school dropout to achieving a doctorate in education and becoming a beacon of change in the fields of educational leadership, sexual health education, misconduct prevention, and trauma-informed care.
  • Addressing Systemic Issues: An in-depth look at how Laura’s work is influencing industries and creating safer, more inclusive environments through training in trauma-informed care, restorative practices, and survivor support strategies.
  • Overcoming Challenges: Laura shares her experiences of working in a climate of increasing legislative restrictions in Florida, reflecting on the implications for educators, advocates, and the communities they serve.
  • The Power of Personal Storytelling: Discover the potency of integrating personal narratives into academic and professional discourse to connect more deeply with audiences and drive home the importance of the work being done.
  • Breaking Free from the Expert Trap: Laura and I discuss practical strategies for academics and professionals to step into roles of thought leadership, including leveraging social media, understanding market rates for speaking engagements, and fostering a mindset geared towards impactful change.

 

About My Guest: Dr. Laura McGuire (they/them or she/her) is an internationally recognized consultant, survivor, researcher, seminarian, and author of the book Creating Cultures of Consent (Rowman & Littlefield, 2021) and The Sexual Misconduct Prevention Guidebook: Consent and Conduct for Higher Education Campuses (Fielding University Press, 2022). They were named as one of the 2022 Champions of Pride by The Advocate magazine and are regularly featured in media outlets for their expertise and approachability. Dr. McGuire is a certified full-spectrum doula, professional teacher, certified sexual health educator, and vinyasa yoga instructor. They have created the world’s first certifications in trauma-informed care for industries spanning from law to insurance. They are a certified member of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT), and the Society of Professional Consultants. They are a graduate of the National Leaders Council and are currently a fellow with the Institute for Social Innovation, where they are researching sexual medicine competency in provider care. Dr. McGuire lives in the United States, where they work as an adjunct professor at Widener University and Dominican University and serve as CEO of the National Center for Equity and Agency.

About Us: The Speaking Your Brand podcast is hosted by Carol Cox. At Speaking Your Brand, we help women entrepreneurs and professionals clarify their brand message and story, create their signature talks, and develop their thought leadership platforms. Our mission is to get more women in positions of influence and power because it’s through women’s stories, voices, and visibility that we challenge the status quo and change existing systems. Check out our coaching programs at https://www.speakingyourbrand.com

Links:

Show notes at https://www.speakingyourbrand.com/387/ 

Laura’s website: https://drlauramcguire.com/ 

Book mentioned “Sell From Love” by Finka Jerkovic: https://www.amazon.com/Sell-Love-yourself-client-offer-ebook/dp/B08MTGC1P9/

Discover your Speaker Archetype by taking our free quiz at https://www.speakingyourbrand.com/quiz/

Enroll in our Thought Leader Academy: https://www.speakingyourbrand.com/academy/ 

Connect on LinkedIn:

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387-SYB-Laura-McGuire-PhD.mp3: this mp3 audio file was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the best speech-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors.

Carol Cox:
If you’ve been in the Ivory tower, it’s time to escape it and step into thought leadership for greater impact. Listen to my conversation with Dr. Laura McGuire on this episode of the Speaking Your Brand podcast. More and more women are making an impact by starting businesses, running for office and speaking up for what matters. With my background as a TV political analyst, entrepreneur and speaker, I interview and coach purpose driven women to shape their brands, grow their companies, and become recognized as influencers in their field. This is speaking your brand, your place to learn how to persuasively communicate your message to your audience. Hi there and welcome to the Speaking Your Brand podcast. I’m your host, Carol Cox. We’re continuing our series around inspiring you to use your voice no matter what your topic or industry. Now, if you’ve been listening to this podcast for a while, you know that I talk quite a bit about what I call the expert trap and how so many of us get stuck teaching and training in our presentations and don’t step into thought leadership. Now, this applies not only to those of us who are entrepreneurs, but of course to all the academics out there as well.

Carol Cox:
And my hand is raised because I was in academia in the early part of my career. This episode is a treasure trove of insights for anyone passionate about making a difference through their work, especially if you’re in academia or any field where expertise is a given and is very highly valued. But thought leadership can make an even bigger impact. My guess is Laura McGuire, PhD, a social scientist, educator and entrepreneur whose journey and work exemplify transformative thought leadership. If you would like to find out what speaker archetype you are, take our free quiz. It just takes a few minutes and then once you take the quiz, you’ll get your results. You’ll find out if you’re a stellar scholar, a fabulous facilitator, a provocative performer, or a spellbinding storyteller. Once you get your result, then you’ll also get recommendations for how to amplify your natural strengths and what to add to it. To make you an even more dynamic speaker, you can take this free quiz as speaking your Brand.com slash quiz. Again, that’s speaking your brand.com/quiz. Now let’s get on with the show. Welcome to the podcast, Laura.

Dr. Laura McGuire:
Thank you so much for having me, Carol. I’m so happy to be here.

Carol Cox:
It is a pleasure. We have known each other for the past few years, mostly through email communication. Every once in a while you write back to one of my emails newsletters about the latest podcast episode and tell me how much that you enjoyed it. So I always appreciate hearing from listeners like you. And I know we had chatted a few years ago to kind of about what you do with the teaching and the writing, and then also speaking. So I wanted to have you on the podcast to give us a perspective from from academia and from fellow social scientists that you work with and how they can escape the expert trap and step into thought leadership. Because we know and I have a background in academia, so I get it. We are prized for being experts. That’s what our degrees in. That’s how we get promoted and and awarded in the context in our workplaces. Same whether you’re if you’re a scientist or an engineer or a physician or a pharmacist. And by all means, I always say, please be an expert in your workplace and with your clients and with your customers, because that’s what they need. They need your your expertise. But when we think about stepping into thought leadership, whether it’s through public speaking or through writing a book, I really want us to think about how can we encourage our audiences to think differently, to think bigger, to help us to solve all these big challenges that we have, both in the micro level and the macro level? So, Laura, let me have you first tell us a bit about what you do in your background, and then we’ll go from there.

Dr. Laura McGuire:
So I am a social scientist, as you mentioned, being in academia and was in the university system and worked for the government for a while and loved what I did and loved what I do, but really wanted to be able to go wherever the need was for these conversations. So I my again, a little more of my background is that my degree is specifically are on educational leadership for change, which is social justice and educational systems. And then my research for my dissertation was focused on sexual health education. So in this space I focus a lot on misconduct prevention, trauma informed care, and preventing and responding to interpersonal violence. So like you said, very, uh, expert kind of field niche and evolving into being an entrepreneur and really making my full time living, teaching, writing and speaking, it’s really been. Creating transformational environments where people can learn and imagine a different future for themselves and their industry.

Carol Cox:
Okay. I have so many questions for you, especially because you live in the state of Florida, just like I do. And we know what our current governor has been doing in the past couple of years with laws that he has sponsored and that the legislature has passed. So we can talk about that towards the end, if you would like, and how that’s impacting the work that you’re doing and the work that you’re seeing going on, not just in Florida, but in other states who may have done similar things or may follow suit. But before we get there, may I ask what got you interested in trauma informed care and sexual assault prevention and care?

Dr. Laura McGuire:
Yes. So my personal story very much feeds into that, in that I’m a survivor of domestic violence. And even before that, when I was young, was very passionate about social justice, social change and transformation and thinking about how systems either support that or prevent it from happening in the way that it should. So I was a high school dropout. I got married super young and started having children a few years after that and then realized, okay, this is not a safe and healthy situation. What am I going to do? I had no GED, no nothing, ended up getting that in my mid 20s and then really realized that a lot of things that I had thought about, college had evolved in that time, and there were options to do more independent learning, um, and still get wonderfully regionally accredited degrees. So I went from my GED to my doctorate in education in four years and eight months.

Carol Cox:
Oh my God, that’s amazing. Congratulations.

Dr. Laura McGuire:
Thank you. And that experience particularly getting the bachelor’s degree at first, was something that really gave me the keys to spaces that I had not grown up with. I come from generationally poor people, um, first person in the family to go to college and enter into that kind of life and future that I would want for myself and my children. And so I became a teacher. I worked with the school that partners with JPS and really loved what I was doing with those students. I’ll start working in victim advocacy and being a full spectrum doula. So all of this fed into me then doing corporate training for that entity of schools, and they taught me a lot about gender responsive care, strength based theory, and trauma informed care. So that became the focus of my doctoral work. And from there, kind of things just continued to expand. And then as an entrepreneur, that has continued to be the main thing that so many industries are still really hungry for and not receiving enough support around. So that has kind of become my my bread and butter, my main stake in this conversation as a thought leader and business owner.

Carol Cox:
So tell me a little bit about with your business, who are your ideal clients, who comes to you and what does it look like that you do with them, and what kind of what what are the outcomes that they get? Yes.

Dr. Laura McGuire:
So it’s kind of funny. Who is my ideal client was very different, I think in the beginning because I was focused on industries I had worked in and I was familiar in, but what has really blossomed and continued to grow has been industries that I had not really thought, okay, I’m going to put a lot of energy here, but still, who is my ideal client no matter the field that they’re in, are people and organizations that are passionate about deep systemic paradigm shifts. They want to do that work and they want support to get there. So one of our mottos as an organization is when you’re ready to make a change, we’re ready to help make that happen, right? So they have to be in a place where they say, yes, we see this. We have a vision for this. Maybe we’ve already got some training, some kind of shifts going on already, but we want to take it to that next level. And so that’s where training on everything from restorative practices at work to trauma informed care, to responding to misconduct in productive and survivor supportive ways has become what we do through education and through also strategic planning. So it’s not just that was a great talk. Right now. There’s actually action steps that we’re putting in place behind it.

Carol Cox:
Now, when organizations and companies seek you out or come to you. Has there been, you know, what is known as like an inciting incident? I don’t mean like an a problem with an employee, but I mean, like, what is like the trigger for them to say, okay, like we are ready for this next step. So two things.

Dr. Laura McGuire:
Usually. Stand out, right? One is that they’re noticing that often there’s a lot of fatigue, burnout and high turnover, and they’re trying to identify where that’s coming from and what to do about it. And again, maybe they’ve taken kind of one on one overviews on understanding burnout or emotional intelligence, but they’re trying to do some of this deeper work. The other thing that we see a lot is where they really want to be able to differentiate themselves from their competitors in these deeper psychosocial ways, so they know there’s other people out there. I just literally yesterday in Florida, wonderfully, did a training for a law firm who will be the first law firm where every single person who is part of it is certified in trauma informed care as a legal professional. And that’s something that they decided to do, right. In the first month that they opened. They said, we want to be known as the people in this area and honestly throughout the country who our entire firm has these competencies. So it’s usually one of those two paths that triggers it.

Carol Cox:
Okay. And so when I hear trauma informed care, usually the context that I’ve heard it in is either as a therapist, your mental health counselor, or as a physician. And, you know, you have patients who come to you. So in the context of a law firm or other non-medical workplace, what is trauma informed care look like?

Dr. Laura McGuire:
Yes. So trauma informed care is is so interesting because it really is instead of something that you’re saying, well, if a client comes in and I’m their therapist and they’re traumatized or like you’re saying a medical provider, okay, you know, somebody’s injured, I address that it’s changing the lens through which we see all of the people we interact with. And in my program, we expand that to not just main trauma informed theory, but also things like spoon theory and consent culture, which is something that I’ve written a lot about. And so it’s having this approach to the way that you’re working with your clients, the way that you’re communicating with them, the way that you’re responding to them, how you are reading, the way they’re interacting with you. And then it is also building organizational cultures that give these competencies to each other. Right. Because so often the mistake I think that’s been made is we ask people to give and give and give a certain approach and to be okay with never receiving that. And that’s just not sustainable. So our program is really balancing both of those sides.

Carol Cox:
Mhm. Okay. That that that makes sense Laura and I and I appreciate the part about the culture as a whole because I think about this so much. Everything from, you know, our society and whatever behaviors we are seeing are the ones that people tend to mimic. Because as humans we are mimickers. So we can be told all day long, you know, behave in a certain way. But if the people around us, especially our leaders, are not doing that, we are probably not going to respond the way that we’ve been told.

Dr. Laura McGuire:
Exactly, exactly. Yes.

Carol Cox:
Okay. So then let’s so it sounds like you have done a great job and kind of shifting out of the expert trap and into thought leadership. Again, not with the kind of, you know, on the ground trainings and things that you’re doing for your clients. Because again, they need that expertise because that’s why they’re hiring you. Yet you have probably found that the thought leadership does come into play, even during workshop trainings, in order for them to kind of see the big picture and what’s possible and kind of where where they’re taking not only their organization, but everyone that they come into contact with. So tell me a little bit about how you’ve developed your thought leadership over the years.

Dr. Laura McGuire:
Yeah, that’s such a good distinction, right? Is that I think sometimes, particularly as you’ve mentioned, we come from this background where we’re so intensely trained to have all of our sources and cite them and give a million statistics. And that’s what a lot of times people get frustrated with. They say, I’ve heard this concept, I went to that training or I saw that keynote and it was a lot of really great facts, but I have no idea what to do with that. Right. What does that look like in my day to day life? And so that’s where I think I’ve really moved into, like you’re saying, this thought leadership space of getting people to really be in that space of expansive imagination around what does this look like in practical application. Right. And so we break down, here’s the theories, here’s the science, but here’s what that looks like in an email. Here’s what that looks like in a text message. Now you tell me, how do you think this would look like in a conversation about an employee’s performance? Right. So making sure that people are seeing those examples and then giving. Multiple opportunities throughout our time together to also include their own imaginings, because everyone is learning from each other as well. And that’s really important when we’re facilitating these kinds of discussions.

Carol Cox:
And have you found that it’s helpful to share stories in your workshops and trainings and even obviously in your keynotes and other speaking that you do either your own stories or stories of, you know, obviously, uh, that have been, you know, all the identifying details have been taken out, but stories that you have come across as well. And tell me a little bit about that and what that looks like.

Dr. Laura McGuire:
Stories, I think, are one of the things that makes people light up the most. Right? Because I can even say, well, I’ve seen a lot of situations like this, or I know as a professional this is incredibly common, but until you can give them a story of one person who went through that or had an example of that, they maybe don’t see that as real as it is. Right? It kind of stays in the cerebral. So making sure that. I think it’s a lot curating what stories are going to be the most effective, right. Because there’s a million people that I’ve interacted with that have powerful things that they’ve shared with me that I have permission to share with somebody else. But which of those is going to highlight the kind of 10,000 foot view of the topic that we’re discussing, and how vital this conversation that we’re having really is? And then making sure that, right, whether it’s a keynote or a training, those are sprinkled throughout. So usually it starts with an overview of the theory. We talk about more examples of that. And then we start getting into some of that storytelling. And I think that’s one of the things that makes people who have the academic background so uniquely qualified to be thought leaders, because we can back up what we’re saying with peer reviewed research. We also have a wealth of lived experience and stories to share. And that scholar survivor experience, especially in my field, is someone who’s advocating for preventing violence is something that’s so unique and I think a lot of people forget to tap into.

Carol Cox:
Yes. And I feel like for so many people in academia and other and even sciences, it’s almost like for they’ve been trained out of storytelling and their personal experience by going through graduate school and then and then into the tenure track seeking positions and then into academia. And I it reminds me that last summer we worked with some University of California faculty members to help them develop their ten minute Ted style talks for an event at the University of California was putting on. So these were there were 8 or 9 of them. And of course, they and they wanted to present their research and everything from how to use concrete and cement in an environmentally sustainable way to the US-Mexico border to, uh, the history of resource extraction in Nigeria. I mean, there was like every, every single type of topic you can think of. And of course, they’re super excited about their research, but they’re so close to it because they live and breathe the minutia of it every single day. And so but they knew they needed it to be accessible to a lay audience, not to other people in their specific field. And so what we when we worked with them, we said, you have to bring out a personal story to make this relatable to your audience. So the woman who’s an engineer with a concrete and cement, she has this great story of growing up on a on a farm where she convinced her mom to turn it organic because she realized the danger that the pesticides were having, not only to them, but to the horses. Right. Like that story. I remember that story, and I remember cement and concrete, but I’m not going to remember, like, all the details about the engineering part. So I’m sure, Laura, with the the social scientists that you come across, they probably kind of get challenged with the same thing.

Dr. Laura McGuire:
Yes. Exactly. Right. Because especially if you’ve ever defended whether it’s a thesis or dissertation, you’re so primed for. Well, let me point you back to the research. Let me point you back to these numbers and these tables and the schema that we coded. And the general public is like, that’s lovely. I don’t really care. I’m not even sure what you’re talking about half the time. So exactly. Blending that with our stories. And I think that no matter our subject. Right. Like you’re using concrete as a great example, whether it’s something that, yes, a lot of people can understand, like I think my topic many people have concerns about, so they’re excited to hear someone speak on that or it’s something that’s even more niche, like cement and organic farming. Right? People care about people. And when we hear someone’s story and we connect to that and we see ourselves reflected in it, or we see someone that is encouraging us, that we feel inspired by, and then we start to buy into the concepts that they’re sharing. Right? So building that bridge is something that I think we do need to train for more in academia. Uh, last summer and now will happen again this summer, I’m actually teaching a class for social science majors on entrepreneurship, because so many of them are not going to get a great paying job right after school. They’re just not. And I fell into that trap myself of thinking, oh, you know, I’m abd all but dissertation I’ll totally get a faculty position. Took five years, I think, to just get an adjunct position. It’s so competitive and hard right now, but yet there are so many opportunities. And honestly, especially as someone who’s a single mom for seven years, a lot of really good money in things like corporate training and speaking, and the people who are often on those stages are regurgitating the research we’re doing. Weighing. And if we can just learn to explain these things in a more digestible way, we can have those opportunities to.

Carol Cox:
Oh, I’m so glad to hear that you are teaching them entrepreneurship, that I love that and I think, you know, so I’m abd for 22 years. So you know I know it’s a long story, but yeah, I left graduate school with a master’s instead of PhD back in 2002. Yeah, a very long time ago, because I realized at the time that the classmates, a year or two ahead of me were struggling to get tenure track positions. And Emory is like the top of the R2 schools. So it’s a good school, but it’s not an Ivy League. So yes, it’s going to be it was much more, you know, competitive and harder for us to get into those tenure track positions. And I saw that and I was like, well, let me make a left turn into tech entrepreneurship, right? But it was funny that Emory and the alumni network come back to me periodically and say, can you talk to people about making the transition from academia into entrepreneurship because they realize that there are a lot of skills we learn that are transferable to entrepreneurs. It just looks very different than the career path we originally set out on when we were younger.

Dr. Laura McGuire:
Yes, exactly, exactly. And I think if schools are going to be a good investment for students and they’re seeing a lot of students leave because they’re like, I’m not really seeing the return in this. The ROI is looking very good. Roi return on investment, but all the acronyms, if we can set them up for this kind of success for a world and any industry that is constantly going to be innovating. I think we talked about before we got on the air, I and how that’s changing so many fields, right? You need to be in a place where you can quickly adapt and grow, and whether you work for someone and have your own business or your own businesses, the whole thing. I think people really need to be thinking more that way instead of, you know, I’ll get this job, I’ll have it for this many years and I’ll retire. Um, those avenues are getting smaller and smaller. So making sure that people understand what does it look like to do this and succeed in these spaces, I think is really vital.

Carol Cox:
Yes. And great point about artificial intelligence, in that the skills that I feel like are going to be needed in the coming years are communication skills and all the the humanities and social sciences skills, which so many people have decided students in the past 20 years decided to go into computer science and Stem, which is great if they truly that was their passion and that’s what they love. But I feel like humanities and social sciences kind of got a short, a short shrift in that time. And there’s so many valuable things that we learn like critical thinking, research skills, synthesizing, understanding. You know, how, how things relate to each other, how ideas connect with each other, and then how to share those with different audiences. And so, Laura, let’s talk about the social science, uh, professors and, you know, those who are in academia or academic adjacent and how you, you know, if there’s any of them listening to this conversation right now, how they can start thinking about getting into paid speaking engagements and doing paid trainings so that they know that tenure at a university is not their only option, that there are other ways that they can use their skills in their degrees.

Dr. Laura McGuire:
Yes. Okay, so the first thing I want to tell any social scientist or any academic who’s listening is. Publishing in journals is great. Being known by your colleagues is fabulous, but if you want to move into this space, you need to tell the world what you know, and you need to make it at a level where you could speak to a group of ninth graders. I always think that’s like a good target audience to think about their reading level and their comprehension level. And how do I make that something that people are going to be engaged with? So starting with getting you’re used to writing, think about taking little quotes from what you’ve written and putting that into posts and posting that on social media. Right. People see that. They want to know more. When you see things in your field showing up in pop culture in the news, post those articles and comment on them. Record a video where you share your expertise about them. I think especially where video platforms are becoming much more popular. Now we’re seeing reels on Instagram and TikTok really exploding. We’re seeing more academics really own that space, and people love it because they’re like, okay, I don’t want to hear just someone who has an opinion, oh, this person went to school for this. This is really cool. They’re offering stuff that I’ve never seen highlighted before. So take this moment. This is an incredible opportunity to move into these spaces. Um, then you really need to think about what is your brand and how are you going to package yourself.

Dr. Laura McGuire:
Right. You need at least a basic website that tells people that you’re awesome and that you’re available how to contact you. Right. And one of the things I teach a lot about in this class is really understanding what are the market rates for speaking in your field? Um, because so many academics are also used to being grossly underpaid. Um, I was a teacher before I was an academic. Right? So like teachers, social workers, um, we make so little money that we think, well, you know, if I ask for like a few hundred dollars, that that’d be wild. That’d be amazing. And then you see, oh, these people with no degrees and no experience working in my field are commanding thousands and thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars. You can get there, too. It’s just getting your name out there consistently. So I think a lot of that is also learning to deal with the messages we’ve received about we don’t do this for the money or we don’t really need anything for this. Uh, you know, the university settings and k 12 primes you for that mentality. And it’s not helpful. What I always tell my students is someone is writing that big of a check and giving it to someone, it will be you, or it will be someone who knows half of what you do. Why not put yourself out there and try?

Carol Cox:
Laura, I am so glad that you shared that because I could not agree more. And I do feel like for so many of us who who do we love? What we do, we love speaking, we love sharing what we do. And so we kind of, you know, this was definitely me early in my career. I feel like, well, I would be here anyways, so right I and do I need to get paid for it as well. And like you said, yes, because they’re going to pay someone and you’ve put in not only all of the education and the hard work and everything, but also just the creating a fantastic talk, you know, takes takes effort, it takes time, it takes iteration. And you absolutely should be paid accordingly for that. And it reminds me of a podcast episode that Brene Brown did before she stopped her podcast, which I really wish she would bring it back because I really enjoyed listening to it. But she shared that she was doing a talk and this was after she had become well known, so she had done her viral TEDx talk. She had written several books. By this point she was well known.

Carol Cox:
She was backstage at an event and she was the headliner keynote speaker. They had some other speakers there, but she was the headliner. She was backstage, I think, and then another speakers agent was there. So not her agent, but someone else who was another speaker there said to her, Rene, you know. That, like my speaker and the other speakers here are getting paid a lot more than you are. I guess because the agent knew. And she’s like, what? Like, what do you mean? They’re all getting paid more than me? And they said, yeah, like double what? You’re getting paid. And she had thought before that conversation kind of like, you know, again, she’s in academia. That’s where her background like, oh, like I’m getting paid this much to come do a show. She thought she was well compensated already. Then she finds this out. So she goes to her own agent after that and says, basically double my fee. Um, but she would have had no idea because people don’t talk about it. They don’t talk about what they’re getting paid or what you should get paid. And that’s why I want to make sure we’re having this conversation.

Dr. Laura McGuire:
Yes. No. Exactly. And I also want to put the caveat, because I think sometimes we say, you know, we got to ask for more. We got to ask for more for people who come from any kind of marginalized community. It’s partially knowing that you can ask for more and what you can ask for. And I think we need to talk to speakers who are in a more privileged place and say, tell me what I can be asking for that you think is just, you know, run of the mill has to be expected. But also we have to address that a lot of the people who are booking these spaces and writing these checks will push back. Yes, against women, against people of color, against queer folks, where they won’t push back against a white, male, cisgender person. You know, they come to them and they say, I need this much money. And these many, you know, things that make me feel comfortable and well compensated. And I’m like, sure, of course you’ve got it. And marginalized people come forward and say, I think I deserve the same. Well, I don’t know. So there’s two sides to it, right? We’re working in systems that are actively pushing back against us, getting to a place of equality. And at the same time, we have to keep pushing, right? We can’t just sit back and accept that, um, there’s no way it’s going to change long term if we don’t collectively do this together.

Carol Cox:
Oh, Laura, I am so glad you mentioned that. And you are absolutely right, because these organizations, they probably would have offered the male speaker more off the bat than a woman speaker or, like you said, LGBTQ or some or some other marginalized community person. And then. Right. And then when we push back, we seem pushy or aggressive or what have you in their minds, in their own minds. And so I wonder, you know, the first thought that I have is it’s great if you have a speaker agent to do that negotiation on your behalf, because then kind of takes you out of it. It feels less personal, right? They’re kind of like that, that that third party intermediary. But obviously not all of us have a speaker agent. Most of us don’t because we’re not Brené Brown or at that level. I don’t know if, like an executive assistant could play that role or if there’s, you know, someone that you could kind of, you know, within your, your business kind of I’m thinking, you know, for us and for listeners kind of task with that being that intermediary, like, you could still read the emails and like help your EA, you know, how to respond, but then you’re kind of distancing yourself a little bit from the negotiation. And what do you think about that, Laura? And any other suggestions that you have?

Dr. Laura McGuire:
Yeah, it’s interesting you bring that up. I mean, I’ve tried a little bit of that. I just haven’t found kind of the right person. So I don’t know if someone’s listening to this and they’re like, I’m the right person, right? Talk to me. Yes. Because yeah, I think a lot of speakers do need to get to that place. And even as business owners, if you aren’t someone who wants to be on front of stages, whatever your product is that you’re selling, I think there’s a great strength in having somebody else be your sales and marketing person, because you are packaging your soul essentially, right? There is so much emotion with this. When people say no or it’s too expensive or they don’t like something about it, it is a direct attack. I mean, you can say it’s not, but that is going to be how it feels. So if there’s somebody else who says, you know what, this isn’t my heart and soul. This didn’t come from my mind and my years of experience. So I can go out there and I can deal with the pushback. I can deal with the negativity and find the right market for you. That’s awesome. And if you’re not at that place yet, or again, you haven’t found the right person to really fit that. I think it is continuing to see what other people are getting and reminding yourself, even if there’s pushback, even if someone says no, you’re not imagining that this is what you’re worth and standing firm in that foundation.

Carol Cox:
Mhm. Yes. Yeah that’s a yeah. It is hard. It’s hard being an entrepreneur. It’s hard being a speaker or whomever you know putting yourself out there and you know facing the potential and real rejections that come. I will say that the more you put yourself out there and the more sales conversations you have, the easier it does get. You know, like sometimes I’ll talk to women. Not everyone signs up. That’s just the nature of business. And there are some of them where I feel like, oh my gosh, like, she would be so perfect. Like, you know, I love her energy and I love the work that she does. And it’s just not a right fit or a right fit at the time. For her, it reminds me there’s a book that I recently read called Self from love. It’s actually really, really good and kind of changes your mindset around thinking about selling again, selling your speaking, or selling in your business. I’ll put a link in the show notes. It’s called sell from love. I forget the author’s name, but she does a really good job of helping you, kind of thinking through, kind of like, you know, you’re having these conversations with potential clients and ultimately you want to serve what’s best for them. And I know that that’s what I want to do. I know Laura, that’s. You want to do in your business as well. So it’s almost like you become that kind of collaborative partner for them to figure out what is best for them. Maybe it is our services, but maybe it’s not. Or maybe it’s not right now. Right. So you’re kind of having a little bit of detachment from the the outcome, like the sales transaction outcome. And instead of looking at it as this collaborative, this collaboration with that person. So I’m like, okay, that helps. That helps. Yeah, no.

Dr. Laura McGuire:
I do I like that and I think. Right, considering am I the best fit? And also and this is really hard. So I say this with humility. Not saying it’s easy, but accepting that you actually don’t want to work with everybody. Some people are not going to be good for you, and you are going to be miserable if things move forward with them. So having the courage to be able to say, I don’t want every single opportunity, I want the right ones at the right time for me.

Carol Cox:
Yes. And that goes with speaking engagements too. There could be a speaking engagement comes along and maybe it’s a good fee and you’re like, wow, that sounds great. But then you learn a little bit more about the event or the audience and you kind of realize, oh, like, that’s just is not going to light me up like that type of event or audience or the topic they want me to speak on, whatever it happens to be. This doesn’t this doesn’t fulfill me in the same way. So then you have to decide, like, is is it worth taking that? And then you foreclose other opportunities on that in that period of time because you’re only one person, right? You only be in one place at one time. Or do you do you let that go and in, you know, the hopes that something else comes along that is a better fit?

Dr. Laura McGuire:
Yes, exactly. And I think another thing in that too, is talking about the fees. One thing that I’ve really learned is prioritizing, really focusing on the bigger fee, higher pay opportunities, instead of a lot of smaller fee opportunities. And people come at this from different angles, right? Some people really want to saturate the market and they want to be everywhere. And someone turns around like, there they are, there they are. And that’s great. That’s their approach. But again, especially as parents, I know that being home with my children is a really important thing to me. And so being able to make what I would have made, doing maybe 20 engagements in two engagements, um, is, is really important. So I think that’s always something to consider too. Do you want to be everywhere? And that is one approach and it’s great. Or would you rather be a few places and have your time for other things as well?

Carol Cox:
Um, yes. Excellent. Excellent point. Laura, I just something just popped in my mind about ways that we can negotiate our speaker fees. So speaking of I, we could have at some point an AI bot. And this is coming whether we want it or not. So basically we’re getting to the point where emails, exchanges that we have with other people, the AIS will be writing to each other anyways because, you know, like Microsoft Outlook is going to be doing that. And Gmail on certain at some point will be able to respond automatically. So then we can just have the AIS negotiate.

Dr. Laura McGuire:
That would be amazing. I would love yes, an AI assistant, just go find my work for me, negotiate the contracts and just tell me where to show up. That would be awesome.

Carol Cox:
And you know what? It is going to happen. It is. All right. Laura. So as I said at the intro, we both live in the state of Florida and our current governor is definitely, uh, on has been on a warpath with, with the all of the bills and legislation that he has been promoting and that they have been passing here in Florida over the past couple of years. Everything from wanting I, I’m, I’m a little bit fuzzy on the details of what actually got passed and not so you may if you if you know then please let me please correct me. But like not allowing gender studies at universities, uh, you know, I know that the African American AP class, they did disallow that. And I think the AP company made some changes. I don’t know if is it allowed again. But obviously all these things about not being able to talk about gender identity in schools, I mean, just a whole rash of things, which, you know, for me, as a University of Florida bachelor’s degree holder, I feel like it cheapens the degree that I have here in Florida, even though I got this degree way back in the 1990s. But I’m like, really? Like that is not the the quality of education that I got. That is not the quality of education that I expect from our Florida university system. So, Laura, your thoughts.

Dr. Laura McGuire:
Are this could be a podcast, right? Right. Succinctly my thoughts I am eternally amazed that I was a teacher in Florida over a decade ago, and things are so much worse now. And actually I will include a story on here. And if anyone watches the video they can see this. So I have this flag and it’s a pride flag, and it’s from one of my students when I taught, uh, high school in Florida. And you can see the edges of it are torn up. And that’s because the student came in and said, I want to give you this flag to have in our classroom because this is a space that is about inclusion. I feel safe in. And the student was an ally. They weren’t LGBTQ themselves, but. They wanted this flag up in their room, and every night their stepfather would get very drunk and he would come in their room and he would tear it down. And they said, in your classroom, this flag will be safe. And I have brought it with me to every place that I have worked since then. And it’s in my office to this day to know that in 2024, I couldn’t do what I did all those years ago for this student and their peers is heartbreaking beyond quantification, right? There’s no way to really express how shocking that is.

Dr. Laura McGuire:
Um, as someone who debated coming out at that time and felt supported in doing so now knowing that I would have lost my job, I the way I try to spin it for myself is the positive is it’s job security. It means that the world needs the work that I do and you do, and so many people do. Um, the need is not going to go away, but it is also something I think we really have to sit in the magnitude of and grieve because it is hard. But especially as a queer and non-binary person, every time I think about leaving the South. I’m from the mountains of Tennessee and have lived in the South most of my life. I always think, you know, there’s going to be the next queer kid born somewhere in Appalachia or in Florida. And if all of the adults who are supportive and safe leave, then who is going to be there for them? So I will probably always remain in the South where I know I’m needed.

Carol Cox:
Oh well, Laura, thank you so much for sharing that really beautiful story, and it is heartbreaking to see what is happening. And I, I like to be an optimist. I kind of I’m an optimist by nature and I and I really feel like the pendulum will swing back at least more towards the other side, because it has swung way too far now with what has been going on.

Dr. Laura McGuire:
Exactly.

Carol Cox:
Yes. Well, Laura, thank you so much for this kind of enlightening conversation. We covered so much. I’m sure the listeners have learned a lot. What is the best place for them to connect with you?

Dr. Laura McGuire:
Yeah, you can go to my website. Doctor. Dr.. Laura. Laura McGuire. Macguire. Com.

Carol Cox:
Fantastic. I will make sure to include a link to Laura’s website and her LinkedIn profile in the show notes. You can also check out the video where so that you can see us and heard the flag that she showed. And thank you so much for doing that. Laura. It’s a pleasure having you on the Speaking Your Brand podcast. Thank you so much for the very important work that you’re doing.

Dr. Laura McGuire:
Thank you so much for teaching me how to be in this space and make a wonderful living, and the work that you do.

Carol Cox:
Thanks again to Laura for coming on the podcast and sharing her insights with us. We’re continuing our series all around, inspiring you to use your voice. So until next time, thanks for listening.

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