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Redefining Success for YOU with Erica Barnhart

Redefining Success for YOU with Jane Atkinson and Erica Barnhart
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Quote: “You can change the world…one word at a time. You really, truly can.” Erica Barnhart 

What does success mean to you? Is it exactly the same as when you first started your speaking journey, or has it evolved? How do you know when you’ve reached that level of success that you have dreamt about? On this episode of The Wealthy Speaker Show, I’m happy to welcome my client Erica Barnhart to share the not-so-straight path that she has taken to get where she wants to be.

Erica is a communication expert, speaker, author, and coach. She is the Founder & CEO of Claxon, a company focused on teaching companies and leaders how to use words to change workplaces and the world. 

Read Full Transcript

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Jane Atkinson: Well welcome everyone to the wealthy speaker. Podcast. I'm. Your host, Jane Atkinson, and we're today. We're talking about the speakers.

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Jane Atkinson: Not always a straight line, and my client, Erica Barnhardt, is here to attest to that. Well, America. Thanks for having me, Jane. I'm also going to be here. Oh, I am so thrilled that you're coming on to, You know. Kind of open the komono for people

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really to share what's going on behind the scenes in terms of

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Jane Atkinson: who you are and what you're bringing to the table

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Jane Atkinson: on the keynote stage on the training stage and all the places. Talk about the let's start from kind of where you are in your life today. What does it?

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Jane Atkinson: What does? What are all the goings on that you have today? Well, I don't know that we want to go there, and it's entirely

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Erica Barnhart: I. This is gonna be a cliche, but like i'm a mom. So I have a daughter who is about to go to college in the fall, to University, to the University of Washington to be specific, and a son who is in grade 9. And so you know, it is a really interesting time of transition, and I mentioned that first one.

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Erica Barnhart: I love my kids, and i'm super proud of them. I think teenagers get a bad rap. So I was trying to say, You know they're great.

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Erica Barnhart: but it it is a time of transition, and you and I started working together, you know, kind of a year ago, when all of that was just starting. And so I think it's not by happenstance

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Erica Barnhart: that you know, with that as a life backdrop that you know that my my path sort of ebbed and flowed, and it was I didn't end up right where I initially thought that I wanted to end up, but i'm so much more energized and at peace with where I did

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Erica Barnhart: so, My professional portfolio, as I like to call it because it just makes me. It makes it feel more manageable somehow. So I have had a company Claxon for about twenty-ish years focused on.

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Erica Barnhart: you know, working with purpose-driven clients. So you need a pollution to make the world a better place, and teaching them how to communicate with clarity and confidence, and that you know that has had its own evolution which we can talk about. But so there's so. There's that hat, and i'm also a teaching professor at the University of Washington at the Oven School.

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Erica Barnhart: So I go back and forth, and any given day between kind of that academic teaching and a like a

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Erica Barnhart: formal, you know. Environment like that is my job, which is to teach about leadership and communication, but it's actually quite similar in a lot of ways to the work I do with clients. And now that docket of work, the the client specific work, I do a lot more

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Erica Barnhart: coaching. So both team training and coaching, and then one on one with leaders again. All roads lead back to. How do you communicate with clarity and account and confidence?

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Erica Barnhart: So they're they're very complimentary, and you know that it's a it's a lot of different movie parts and pieces for sure, a lot of moving parts, and you have some pretty if I might brag on you for a second. Pretty impressive clients on your client list. Are

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Jane Atkinson: you comfortable talking about anybody that you're working with right now

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Erica Barnhart: with Microsoft, you know, with

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Erica Barnhart: white pages so sort of bigger name in that regard. But the you know the majority of my work has been with foundations and nonprofits. Yeah, for sure. Not that they, you know, are the only ones making the world a better place, but they they are definitely, uniquely focused on it. So yeah.

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Jane Atkinson: And the work that clacks and communications does is really important in the world. And I love that you're doing that. Okay. So you come to me.

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Jane Atkinson: I don't know a year or 2 ago and say, I want to be

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Jane Atkinson: what

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Erica Barnhart: I wanted to do. More more paid public speaking. I was like. It's time, Jane and I've been really lucky like I love public speaking. You know I did drama growing up so like it's it's a comfy place for me to be in front of people, which is a little weird. But I really love it. And you know, fundamentally, i'm an educator. And so.

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Erica Barnhart: being in front of a crowd, has always felt, you know, like a a lovely place to be in a privilege to to be there. But I came to you, and I was like there's too many things on my plate, and so I wanna like, Elevate the speaking and

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Jane Atkinson: right, and we've come a long way, baby, and sometimes it's not a straight line, and I want to pull up

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Erica Barnhart: a saying that I got from Dan Sullivan. I was part of strategic coach for many, many years over a decade, and he came in one day and gave us a speech called: I want what I want because I want it, and I

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Jane Atkinson: love you. Don't have to justify what you want to anybody else.

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Jane Atkinson: and you just want what you want, because you want it. And so I want to add a little on to that

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Jane Atkinson: saying, and

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Jane Atkinson: I want what I want because I want it, and I reserve the right to change my mind. Yes.

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Jane Atkinson: for the people who have decided that they want to shift, evolve, pivot, whatever you want to call it, in their businesses, and you know what i'm in the camp with you right now, where I've decided that. Hey, Wait a second. Let me just re-evaluate. That for a second. Okay. So talk about

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Jane Atkinson: your process. You start to go down the road, and and it was very, actually helpful. I think you had to really clear the land for your empire. And so some things needed to happen in your business to do that, and I was pretty helpful in terms of

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Jane Atkinson: allowing people to see immediately how you are going to help them.

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Erica Barnhart: Yeah, yeah, definitely. So it's shifted last year. It's gonna seem like a nuance. But it was actually substantive. The company was technically the class of marketing. And so we work together, because that that that end up feeling quite limiting to me.

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Erica Barnhart: And so we transition to class and communication, and that was an it was important to me because I was starting to to really evolve the communicate for good model. And so, when you communicate for good. You're communicating with the good of yourself, your team, the organization, and then by extrapolation, the world

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Erica Barnhart: right? So so that was a lot of the the lay in the foundation, but also as a shift in mind, share from oh, we would hire Claxon to do our organizational messaging.

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Erica Barnhart: and I still do that work. I did change my offers pretty substantially as well, so that I could do the work more in a more streamlined kind of more effective way with clients.

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Erica Barnhart: But what ended up happening which was really interesting was, I just got

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Erica Barnhart: more and more requests from clients to be doing like the the how do we communicate as a team. How do I communicate

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Erica Barnhart: as a leader as somebody who holds position, authority, and it's kind of heartbreaking, Jane, because, like the number, you know, when when I have potential clients come to me. Well, it depends on like if they're wearing a hat, I think about their team. Then they're they're like how we like. We like each other in general. I would say, this is how it goes.

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Erica Barnhart: but we cannot like we are frustrated, and we don't know why we don't know why, and then what you know as an individual, you know, when they come they're like, I I don't know what's going wrong, but i'm not landing. I'm not landing my communication, and it's really getting in the way of my success and and the organization's success and the team success.

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Erica Barnhart: So they were really big ships. And so when when we started. So I you know I did those sort of rebate, the rebrand, or the transition that it was like. It's just interesting, like. I don't know exactly where the speaking is gonna fit in. And you and I, we're having a conversation in one of our sessions

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Erica Barnhart: I was like at the time I I had. I had realized that I don't just achieve. I was like addicted to over achieving.

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Jane Atkinson: Yes.

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Erica Barnhart: in every you know realm right like. If you're supposed to drink 75 ounces of water i'm going to drink 100, you know, if you're supposed to work out 3 days week. I'm going to work out 5, you know. It's just absurd and tiring, and so I I I was. I was ready to sort of do that work.

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Erica Barnhart: and then you and I were having a conversation, and you said something. I'm going to paraphrase. But you're like Erica. You keep talking about how like you? You? You like the the speaking part of your business, isn't successful, but i'm pretty sure you just told me that you were going to do a training for the Gates foundation like later this week. And i'm like, Well, yeah, but that's a training. Yeah.

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Erica Barnhart: right? And so it was this

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Erica Barnhart: being hung up on because the bulk of I I've done many. I love kenos it's awesome, but I wouldn't say you know I'm known for that

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Erica Barnhart: i'm much more known, for you know this, you know. But I would refer to as training. and you you just invited me to be like. Well, maybe that that seems like success. So maybe you need a reframe.

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Jane Atkinson: Yeah. So the definition of success for you at 1 point was.

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Erica Barnhart: I must be a keynote speaker to be

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Erica Barnhart: in this realm, and then it's like, Well, I've got this contract that's pretty large, and then this other large contract, and then another one just came in, and i'm like, hey, hey, hey! Wait a second

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Jane Atkinson: success. What? What's the definition of it? And so you went to work and really redefined.

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Jane Atkinson: What success look like for you? Talk about the identity piece.

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Erica Barnhart: Yeah, I mean.

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Erica Barnhart: I wanted I was. I was really wrapped up in this idea that I would be a keynote speaker, and and I just want to underscore. You know you want what you want, because you want it, and I love that. You know you don't have to justify it. Yes.

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Erica Barnhart: and

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Erica Barnhart: I I became through that. I wasn't clear why I wanted that like I wanted it to be part of of my identity, and I was allowing success to be some so like something that was in the future, as opposed to focusing on all the ways in which that was already true for me.

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Erica Barnhart: I was already a successful speaker. The other piece of it that started that I realized, was like in trying to

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Erica Barnhart: become this keynote speaker. It was it was taking the joy out of

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Erica Barnhart: out of thinking about speaking, and it was always something that was like out. Yes, my grasp. I want to read this screensaver that I have on my ipad.

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Jane Atkinson: Remember being happy

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Jane Atkinson: doesn't mean you have it all. It simply means you're thankful for all that you have. And so you, I think.

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Erica Barnhart: needed permission

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Jane Atkinson: to be good

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Jane Atkinson: like to to check the box. Yeah, right? Because overachievers sometimes

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Jane Atkinson: it. And and I think this is really interesting. My old boss, with Vicente, used to talk about the All the Happy when mentality i'll be happy when I check that box. I'll be happy when I check that box, and i'll be happy when

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Jane Atkinson: and and you and I have often run a little bit parallel in our circumstances.

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Jane Atkinson: and I've said to people that for the last 30 years I felt like I've had my foot on the gas pedal.

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Erica Barnhart: not down to the floor, but somewhere between half and down to the floor.

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Jane Atkinson: and just recently I thought, you know what it's just going to ease off for a little bit.

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Jane Atkinson: Yeah, I don't want to be. And and the word

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Jane Atkinson: focused hustle, I think, is probably pretty good for the people who are in our school. They're they're doing focused hustle. It's very. It's very intentional. But I don't really want to hustle anymore.

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Erica Barnhart: Yeah.

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Erica Barnhart: Well, I think this is this is this hustling. Right? Yeah. Well, in this. But this relates back to identity right? Like the question.

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Erica Barnhart: Who would I be if I wasn't?

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Jane Atkinson: Hmm. Oh, interesting! Who would you be

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Jane Atkinson: a successful person who's, you know.

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Erica Barnhart: a lot less stressed, let me tell you in life, perhaps. Who would I be if i'm not we most mornings I You know I i'm like a journal in Chunky, so i'm always journaling. But I I,

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Erica Barnhart: with great consistency, say, who do I want to be today? How do I want to show up? You know sort of looking at, you know. For whom am I showing up? And then who do I want to be.

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Erica Barnhart: And so I mean you can play with these things, you know, when i'm doing coaching we do a lot of this work right like. Who?

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Erica Barnhart: What do you want to be? You get to choose to a great extent? Yeah. And like, who would I be if I took my foot off the gas.

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Erica Barnhart: and that can. Actually, I just want to acknowledge that can be scary.

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Erica Barnhart: I think it's it's, an it's an active bravery. So for listeners who are thinking like I might want to do this in the New York. Some of it really is an active bravery. It is your subconscious mind is going to be like. Do, do, do, do, do like this is who you are.

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Jane Atkinson: You're a hustler. You're getting your your foot, you know, on the gas. You should be in fear right now, right generating, generating. And what I really been working on is just my money mindset, because

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Jane Atkinson: saying no to business, it's not that I don't want to do business anymore.

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Jane Atkinson: It's that I want to narrow my scope just a little bit further, and really focus on a couple of things and Not a lot of people know this, but i'm going to

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Jane Atkinson: the coaching. I'll continue with my private coaching. I'm gonna do a mastermind

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Jane Atkinson: for women. and I think I have a title on it.

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Erica Barnhart: The catapult Squad. I like words, so the catapults. But how does that land for you? I I mean, I assume that. So

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Erica Barnhart: you know, for me, I like I actually worked the method right? So I had this thing called the Claxon method, which allows you to sort of communicate with clarity and conference, but consistently right. So you always start with what a success look like, then who's the target audience, or who are you communicating with. And then how are you going to communicate so messaging, or the name of something? That's always a how

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Erica Barnhart: so? My question back would be, what does success look like for the mastermind, that they all go from this place to this place

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Jane Atkinson: on a podcast? You didn't see that, because may not be watching it virtually. But they're all going from, say, 150,000 to 300 or 3 to 5, or whatever that might look like financially. That's what it looks like. It looks like a leap.

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Erica Barnhart: a leap. Okay, this. And who are the women?

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Jane Atkinson: It's women who are out speaking professionally, and

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Jane Atkinson: they may have other sources of income like you consulting, etc.

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Jane Atkinson: Yeah. they're They're already earning over a 100. K:

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Erica Barnhart: Right?

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Jane Atkinson: Yeah.

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Erica Barnhart: Catapult. Okay. So

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Jane Atkinson: we've all heard the expression, the words manner, and

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Erica Barnhart: but fails to be pointed out as words matter because they are matter.

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Erica Barnhart: Okay, so fundamentally, words are like everything else in the University about energy, and so I totally get catapult. I like swat. It's that's just fun. That's very on brand, for you, you know, like because squad.

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Erica Barnhart: But I wonder about catapult like? Do do they

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Erica Barnhart: ahead of what has like a kind of intense energy. And if you think about what a catalog is like.

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Erica Barnhart: I don't want to go flying through the I don't know that I want to go fly. Is there a safety net? What happens when I midair? I don't know. Okay, all right. Well, you're giving me some good feedback. So to be continued people, we don't know what the name is yet of Jane's mastermind.

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Jane Atkinson: Okay. I want to talk to you a little bit about the permission to want what you want because you want it. And

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Jane Atkinson: how did you kind of get there and be just like, okay. This is. This is where I'm at.

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Jane Atkinson: This is where i'm going. Now

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Erica Barnhart: you know what I i'm always attentive to resistance, and when I was noticing, like you know, I write a lot. I love writing it's. You know it's fun. I do it for living. I get hired to find words, you know, and I was resisting writing the content for my speaking page

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Erica Barnhart: like I was really stalled out with it, and i'm like, what? What is this about? Right and cause? That's always that that level of resistance is always going to be about something. And finally, it was like something just feels really off, and it was the realization that I wasn't.

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Erica Barnhart: It was a realization. But how much joy I I have done, you know, either low cost, or I'll do free public speaking, you know regionally, because it's great. This stuff I mean my best. This step is speaking engagements, and I just kind of stopped doing them, and then I was stalled out, and I was like what the what is going on.

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Erica Barnhart: and I I just was like, I I love this, and i'm doing less of it rather than more of it. And is that what I want like? Who do I want to be somebody who is doing this.

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Erica Barnhart: you know, and sometimes making really great money and other times doing it because it's this stuff, or just for the sheer joy of seeing people have aha moments. and I was missing, seeing people have aha moments.

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Erica Barnhart: And so the permission was like permission to just create as many of those moments as possible for folks in whatever way, and it could look a lot of different ways, and to trust myself, I mean, I think there's a piece to all of this that really is about self trust.

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Erica Barnhart: and we, I mean, we live in a confusing world for really having

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Erica Barnhart: depth and breadth of self trust because we've become so reliant on external forces and external validation to say like, Yep, you're on the right go. So I've worked a lot on sort of reconnecting. I I I I am somebody who has very, very good instincts I always have.

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Erica Barnhart: And so I just went back to like, what are your instincts about how this is going. Erica. Like it's not great, but it there's that tension right between you, don't you also Don't. Wanna

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Erica Barnhart: Well, I just speak for myself. But I think listeners of this podcast, you know, like they, they want to be successful. They have goals, so that that piece around, knowing and discernment of like. Am I like bailing on a goal because it's hard or like You know what one of the reasons that i'm shifting focus

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Erica Barnhart: and being clear on that, and not using it, you know, to let yourself out the hook because something isn't going the way you want. That is different than this isn't what I want. Yes.

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Jane Atkinson: and I didn't.

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Jane Atkinson: I didn't, really. I don't think you were just defining success

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Jane Atkinson: in the way that allowed you to win. Yeah, yeah, didn't feel like winning. I always had to have some, you know thing out there, and I think it's interesting for people who say, okay, I want to become a keynote speaker. Really, look

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Jane Atkinson: at who you're getting your validation from in your life.

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Jane Atkinson: Are you wanting this to serve your ego so that you can be up there in front of the 500 or a 1,000 people in getting all the glory and Yaya, Are you coming from a place of service, and I saw light bulbs going off, and I know that most of the people that are in my world

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Jane Atkinson: are really coming from a great place where they're serving humanity. And

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Jane Atkinson: if you're waiting for some sort of external validation, we know that that's just problematic, right?

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Erica Barnhart: Very problematic. because it will never be enough. No, and you can you don't you? You can't let me say that it's much easier to validate yourself

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Erica Barnhart: because that's you can source that anytime you want that's available to you anytime you want like I go through my day, and i'm like yay me, you know, this morning I did the thing high 5, you know all the rest of it. Whereas if I was waiting

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Jane Atkinson: yeah, especially in the speaking world, where people are still kind of always waiting for you to get a real job

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Erica Barnhart: really be aware of. Who are you sharing your goals with?

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Jane Atkinson: And because the people who are probably closest to you in your life. They may not get them.

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Erica Barnhart: not understand your goals, and they may not understand.

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Jane Atkinson: you know, when you achieve them. I remember sitting out back for a happy hour with a couple of my neighbors once, and I had just finished a really intense coaching certification.

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Jane Atkinson: and I was like all excited about it, and I'm sharing with them

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Jane Atkinson: all of these things. And one person said one thing to me that completely let the air out of my balloon. And I thought. Okay? Well, there you go now. You know that this isn't the audience for you, and so often our neighbors Aren't.

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Jane Atkinson: Yeah.

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Jane Atkinson: some of my neighbors are. You know it's just a matter of really understanding

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Erica Barnhart: who is going to be on the right wavelength for me to share this with it.

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Erica Barnhart: And you know again, there's discernment. Who is that person, and also who is it safe to share with?

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Erica Barnhart: You know which those those 2 things are related? But you know it still is unusual to be an entrepreneur.

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Erica Barnhart: and it's very unusual to be somebody who's like. I actually want to stand up in front of people. That sounds amazing, you know they were like, Why, so I I just. I think it really is a unique thing for people who want speaking as part of their business, and I intentionally, you know.

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Erica Barnhart: sort of made that. Not about identity, right? Not people who want to be speakers, but people who are speaking as part of their business or part of your life.

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Erica Barnhart: Yeah, it's a you know. There's a lot of raised eyebrows, but this gets right back to like you.

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Erica Barnhart: You want what you want, because you want it.

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Jane Atkinson: I wasn't sure if I wanted to go out and speak much anymore. And I just happened to be in Florida, and the Florida chapter of Nsa. Was saying, You know

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Jane Atkinson: we've got a date in March to You want to come, do it? And I really thought quite seriously about. You know I hadn't been out on the road speaking since Pre Covid. I had done dozens and dozens and dozens of chapters before that, and that was a great way to a business development like Yes.

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Jane Atkinson: and I just wasn't sure like I don't know for 30 years. I don't know if I need to do it anymore. And I got there in the room with the kind of approach that

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Jane Atkinson: i'm just someone here sharing what I know

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Jane Atkinson: kind of like a little bit of a not take it or leave it attitude, but just like not a lot of pressure on me to perform. It was just, you know. Here's here's what I know to be true.

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Jane Atkinson: Well, oh, my gosh! It was one of the most rewarding gates that I had, and now I was like, okay, Well, maybe once in a while, you know. Maybe we'll do some more of that, because it is good for business, and I know I should

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Jane Atkinson: be doing particular things. If I was a a a person who was in hustle mode, I would be out speaking in a

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Jane Atkinson: i'm. Not early in that mode anymore. And so what are you doing, Listener

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Jane Atkinson: 2.

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Jane Atkinson: Be at where you are at the business. What are you doing to support where you are in your business. Have you taken your foot off the gas puddle a little bit, maybe, like me, and decided that

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Erica Barnhart: you're not gonna slow it down. But you're going to work smarter. How's that? What I mean? This is, you know, kind of comes back to the loss of their thermodynamics and physics right like once you say this is the thing, and you really

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Erica Barnhart: to the end, like once I was like I just. I want this to be joyful again. I want as many people as possible to know that they can communicate with clarity and confidence. It is a learn, noble skill, right? And once I made that shift. So many more opportunities started coming my way.

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Erica Barnhart: and I had the mindset you shift to notice, like when it was speaking like last week I got to do a fabulous, like a colleague who was traveling, so I did a guest lecture for her graduate, of course, on leadership on communication, and I think in the past I would have been like Well.

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Erica Barnhart: Harrom, of course, like I've been doing that for a long time, and it was just it was so fun it was just pure joy. Yes, yes, and we don't know until we try what it's going to bring us joy, but noticing and being so grateful for every opportunity

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Jane Atkinson: like that. Every opportunity to create those aha moments for folks has been huge and nice. That's nice. Well, i'm gonna change the title of this to redefining success in.

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Erica Barnhart: because I really do think that that's what this is all about is just what is your success? Look like? Success for you.

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Jane Atkinson: Anybody else? Exactly. Well, yes, and so if you see someone up on the big main stage at a big speakers conference, and they're defining what their own success is really put it through your own and decide.

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Jane Atkinson: hey? No, that's not for me. I'm not gonna be on planes 50 times a year right now. Thank you. That's not who who I'm going to be.

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Jane Atkinson: Tell everybody. Thank you so much, for, like I said, opening the kimono real about where you've gone in your journey to defining your own success.

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Jane Atkinson: Tell everybody where they could connect with you, or if there's something that you would like to offer for that

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Erica Barnhart: I would say 2 places. So I have a podcast call communicate for good. So if communicating with clarity and confidence is on your radar docket, I would check that out. And then Paxon's website, which is Clax and Dash communication. No. S.

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Erica Barnhart: Dot com is a great, you know, for step the only a social medium on is linkedin after much experimentation.

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Jane Atkinson: And this is it. Are you there as Erica Mills, Barnhart or Erica Barnhardt, Erica Barnhard okay, and Claxon By the way, is C. L. A. X. O. N. Just. Fy: I: okay.

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Jane Atkinson: Yeah, Thank you so much. Listeners. Thank you so much for coming on this journey of self discovery with us. We appreciate it, and we appreciate you, setting out and defining your own path to success. And with that we'll say.

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Jane Atkinson: See you zoom wealthy speakers, bye, for now everyone.

Highlights you won’t want to miss:

  • Erica’s life today. [1:00]
  • I want what I want, but… [5:00]
  • Making an identity shift. [10:00]
  • Not going full throttle. [12:30]
  • Give yourself permission to change. [17:00]
  • Where do you find validation? [20:30]
  • Work smarter, not harder. [24:00]


Erica also serves as an Associate Teaching Professor at the University of Washington. She now calls Seattle, Washington home, but a piece of her heart will always be in Vancouver, Canada, where she was born.

If you would like some great ideas on how to figure out what success means to you, you simply can’t afford to miss this episode!

I hope you’ll listen and learn.

Links:

Erica’s website
Communicate for Good Podcast
Erica’s LinkedIn profile
Jane’s LinkedIn profile
Jane’s coaching options
The Wealthy Speaker School

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