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TEDx Talks, Mental Health and Speaking with Frank King

TEDx Talks, Mental Health and Speaking with Jane Atkinson and Frank King
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*Trigger Warning: this episode contains discussions about mental health and suicide.*

Quote: “In speaking and in comedy, you can make fun of any group to which you belong.” Frank King

I’m sure most of you know what a TEDx Talk is and the possibility of what it can do for your speaking career. TEDx Talks have catapulted many of the top-paid speakers to where they are today and lend visibility, credibility, and marketability to your resume. On this episode of The Wealthy Speaker Show, we’re excited to welcome 7-time TEDx speaker and comedian Frank King to share his insights on what you can do to get accepted by the TEDx committee and spread your message. 

Frank is a Suicide Prevention Speaker and was a writer for The Tonight Show for 20 years, a full-time Speaker and Comedian for 35 Years, and a TEDx Coach for 7 years. He’s fought a lifetime battle with Depression and Chronic Suicidality, turning that long dark journey of the soul into 7 TEDx Talks on Mental Health and lifesaving insights for associations, corporations, and colleges.

 

Read Full Transcript

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Jane Atkinson: Well welcome everyone to the wealthy speaker. Podcast. Today we're going to be talking about how to land and leverage a Tedx talk. My special guest today is Frank King. Welcome to the show, Frank.

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[PFO] Frank King: Thank you, Jane, And before you go any further I want to. I want to clear something up.

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Jane Atkinson: Oh, yeah,

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[PFO] Frank King: I heard a phrase years ago, and I believe it is your wording. I think somebody was a student of yours,

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[PFO] Frank King: and the phrase is, pick a lane,

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[PFO] Frank King: and I've attributed that to you ever since.

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[PFO] Frank King: Is that I think that is your

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Jane Atkinson: in my book, and I got the phrase from Joe Calloway, who generously ah! Loaned it to me for the wealthy speaker, and we have used it here in the hall of the wealthy Speaker School now for many, many years, because

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Jane Atkinson: it makes sense to pick a lane. And so we're going to talk about your lane. But give me the today snapshot of your business model. What does your business look like today? I know you're a Tedx coach,

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Jane Atkinson: but you also do other things. Tell me that. Tell me the big picture, and then we're going to take a step and go backwards.

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[PFO] Frank King: Okay? Ah, the what I do today obviously is, i'm a tax coach, and I'm a professional speaker, and I speak on suicide prevention as a workplace and college health and safety issue. That is, my Lane

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[PFO] Frank King: and I and I picked it in part because you suggested that I mean I'd heard that from you from him years ago. I'm a slow learner chain. So two thousand and eighteen January. The first

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[PFO] Frank King: I thought from this point forward I am simply a Suzette provision speaker. I have other speeches, and if they want to pay me for them, or if I can toss it in as a breakout in the afternoon to give the meeting plan, or some additional, you know, like two slots for one speaking fee and one trap.

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[PFO] Frank King: I'll do that, or i'll do stand-up comedy at the bank or i'll auctioneer at the Charity, but all I pitch all I do my lane is suicide prevention speaking, and the reason I chose it. But besides you is, I look around my town. The people who are most successful

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[PFO] Frank King: trying to figure out what they had in common. One owns a body shop, one of those two radio stations. They're very successful. What's the common element? And I realized they do one thing,

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[PFO] Frank King: and they do it extremely well, and they're no longer a commodity in those businesses. When someone looks for a body shop they're not looking for anybody shop. They're looking for Todd's autobody because he is. He is no longer a commodity. They come looking for him, and that's what I tell my speaker coach

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[PFO] Frank King: eventually. You want to be not a commodity.

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[PFO] Frank King: Your topic in the speaking business. They want somebody like you.

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[PFO] Frank King: They want you. They come looking, and it's happened a couple of times, and and and because I picked the Latin because I've worked very hard to

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[PFO] Frank King: to make that my lane, my brand, and I took it a step farther,

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[PFO] Frank King: also decided I needed to figure out who my ideal clients are, So my marketing wouldn't be spray and prey. Not. Everybody needs suicide prevention.

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[PFO] Frank King: So I picked half dozen of the top ten at risk, occupations for suicide,

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[PFO] Frank King: construction, mining excavation, fishing, farming, forestry, dentist veterinarians, attorneys, and agriculture, and I pick six of those, and that's the only people I only have market to those six groups.

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[PFO] Frank King: It makes the sales process a lot simpler, because if they contact me, I don't have to convince them as soon as I've reached it. A great idea

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[PFO] Frank King: they all rid of them.

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Jane Atkinson: That

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[PFO] Frank King: all they're doing is trying to figure out which suicide prevention speaker, they're going to get which isn't a bad idea when you're thinking about who your markets and we suggest, By the way, three markets six, You know. You know how difficult it is to go really deep into any one industry. And so there's a lot of room to play in there. So that's why we kind of choose three, and some of our clients even choose one market.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes, I.

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Jane Atkinson: You could do suicide prevention for dentists, or one of those groups that you mentioned if you wanted to. But I can see where going broad

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Jane Atkinson: is important. Now we're driving into the business stuff. But I do want to do a little detour for a second here to talk about how you landed.

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Jane Atkinson: Ah! On this topic. You gave me a story to be in the wealthy Speaker Three, and it's a very deep story, and you have a comedy background. And so

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Jane Atkinson: I I want to take this part of the story with as much seriousness as we need to, and this is something that is in. I have

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Jane Atkinson: my one of my best friends. Her daughter has suicidal thoughts and tendencies. Frequently every time the phone range she doesn't know what she's going to get. And so i'm kind of like feeling this with you, and for anybody who's listening. Please tell your story of how you landed here.

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[PFO] Frank King: Started comedy,

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[PFO] Frank King: April the one thousand nine hundred and eighty four. My first open, Mike. I got on stage. Halfway through my set I heard this inside my head. Your home

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[PFO] Frank King: and I don't. I want to be a comedian since fourth grade, and so I decided I was going to be a professional comedian, had no idea how,

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[PFO] Frank King: year and a half later said to my girlfriend, Now, my wife, thirty five years, i'm going on the road to be a stand-up comedian full-time. Do you want to come along figuring she go. Oh, hail them

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[PFO] Frank King: she goes! Yes, So we were on the road, together with no home for two thousand six hundred and twenty nine nights in a road non-stop.

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[PFO] Frank King: Wait! Let me write that down. Two thousand six hundred and twenty, nine nights.

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Jane Atkinson: Whoa!

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[PFO] Frank King: Seven years in change and worked with Dennis Miller Fox were the Ellen generous Rosie Steve Harvey Adams that you know back when they were just cops,

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[PFO] Frank King: and I did that until I got a job at radio in Raleigh about seven, eight, I guess, ten years later, and as most people in radio will tell you, there are two kinds of people in radio people who have been fired, and people are going to be fine.

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[PFO] Frank King: I took a number one morning show and drove it to Number Six in eighteen months.

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[PFO] Frank King: I didn't just drive in the ground. I drove it to middle Earth, so I then the Comedy Club boom busted, and I thought, well, i'm a clean comic.

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[PFO] Frank King: I could do corporate comedy, the rubber chicken circuit conferences.

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[PFO] Frank King: Every now and then one of my aging comedian friends says, What's there to be a club comic and a corporate cop about five Grand and I plus travel.

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[PFO] Frank King: And let me just put in a word for the rubber. Chicken circuit is typically free in our world. But you're talking about a different kind of

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[PFO] Frank King: Oh, yes,

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Jane Atkinson: yeah, okay. You were getting paid.

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Jane Atkinson: Okay?

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[PFO] Frank King: Oh, yes, ah, five grand for forty, five minutes. I mean it was um. And in the meeting plan I would say to me, Wait a minute. We're paying you five thousand dollars for forty five minutes, and just jokes, and I would say, Look, you're not paying me for the forty five minutes of jokes, I tell you're paying me so when I get on my job. You still have a job

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[PFO] Frank King: that resonates with meeting planners the

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[PFO] Frank King: right, and you put a mike at a comic's hand.

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Okay,

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[PFO] Frank King: So that wrote that horse until about two thousand and seven, eight for recession. Hits bookings drop off eighty percent.

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[PFO] Frank King: We were. We had some negative cash flow. The house pay was about two thousand three hundred dollars a month. Just couldn't keep up

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[PFO] Frank King: and so file Chapter seven bankruptcy lost everything we've worked for in twenty five years,

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[PFO] Frank King: and that's when I learn what the barrel of my gun tastes like,

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[PFO] Frank King: literally in my keynote. I say, spoiler alert. I didn't pull the drink which gets a nervous laugh.

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Jane Atkinson: You know. Kind of lighten up a moment. That is very, very serious, and what you're talking about.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes, there's a reason they call it comic relief. Jane, it's a

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[PFO] Frank King: and there's a psychological principle. If you have a piece of serious business, and then you fall with something, some comic relief. Their brain is much better prepared for the next piece of serious business, because, you know, forty five minutes of death and dying and suicide whatever is tough to take without

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[PFO] Frank King: It's a

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Jane Atkinson: Yes, it's got to have some balance to it, so that people don't feel so just dark and heavy. Right?

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes, and as a speaker. I like to move them from laughter to tears, to laughter, to tears. A woman in Iowa last June, after I did my keynote came up and said, You made me laugh twice and cry. Once I said, My work is done,

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[PFO] Frank King: because you know what they say, Jane. They may not remember what you say, but they will remember how you made it feel,

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[PFO] Frank King: and so I like to move the audience that way.

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Jane Atkinson: What? What advice do you have to someone out there, and we won't. Go heavily down this path. But what advice do you have for someone who's out there who is going through some dark times right in this moment

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[PFO] Frank King: I would first go to a mental health evaluation. Just be evaluated. Find out if it is simple garden variety, depression, or is it the depressive state of bipolar disorder. What exactly is it, borderline?

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[PFO] Frank King: I would also have a physical, because sometimes physical ailments present as mental health challenges.

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[PFO] Frank King: They had a friend here in town who was terribly depressed, and come to find out for physical his body wasn't metabolizing iron. So they put him on what they call a time release iron, supplement bingo!

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[PFO] Frank King: He's back to flying level. So I would do a mental health evaluation of physical, just in case, if medications indicated, I would,

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[PFO] Frank King: the doctor, whatever they suggested. However, only one third of psychotropics on average work for everybody. The

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Yeah.

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[PFO] Frank King: So there's now a Dna cheek swap test. They take your Dna like ancestry dos, and they try to match your Dna with the antidepressant. Let's say that works best with your metabolism. So there's less of that

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[PFO] Frank King: Labrad, you know. Go on to the more paper off. Go on doesn't work paper. It's a it's not perfect, but it's a lot more accurate than just what the drug salesman told the physician.

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[PFO] Frank King: You know so, and I would. I would let people in your life know anybody who you know, love and trust. Let them know what you're going through, and what kind of help you may need.

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Jane Atkinson: Yes,

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[PFO] Frank King: people with mental illness are often great actors. I have a screen actors guild card. For a reason I did not come out as suppressed as a saddle until I did my first. Tedx and I came out of the middle health positive on that stage as depressed as suicide. My wife, did, you know?

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Jane Atkinson: No?

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[PFO] Frank King: Well, we hide it, you know we don't want to burden anybody. Not much. You figure anybody else can do. But if they know what's happening, and they know what's liable to happen in the books, we I wrote a series of four books with two co-authors, and

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[PFO] Frank King: we compare the brain to ah an automobile and and it looks like Ah, it's for men, and It looks like an automobile. Owners may, and in there there's a metaphor, you know. If you're racing nascar, you're not going to wait until you roll into the pit to hire a bit crew you're going to. You're going to have stand it by, you know, with the tires, the braves and oil, so that when you tongue goes wrong

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Jane Atkinson: you're ready to go.

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[PFO] Frank King: It's like buying a car every time I have a car I have to bl A. Because I know it's unlike. So that's kind of what your family friends that you know love and trust need to know, so that if it melts down,

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[PFO] Frank King: you know, how how can they support you in that? But again, people who have been alone this oftentimes are really shy because of stigma.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yeah, recrimination. So

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[PFO] Frank King: those people who is listening today. I think we'll put. I'll have Monica put both the Us. And the Canadian help lines for suicide, prevention

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Jane Atkinson: and and mental health awareness, so that there's at least a number here. But please please please reach out to somebody and know that there are people that care about you.

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Jane Atkinson: So

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes, and By the way, we have a new three digit number

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nine hundred and eight

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[PFO] Frank King: for the Suzanne prevention. Lifeline is now nine hundred and eight,

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Jane Atkinson: nine, one one. It's nine, eight, eight,

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[PFO] Frank King: Yeah.

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Jane Atkinson: Know. That Is that all across America?

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[PFO] Frank King: Uh-huh. I did not know that. Okay. So big That's big news to me.

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[PFO] Frank King: Well, here's another one for you.

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[PFO] Frank King: Okay, They They discover that younger people,

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[PFO] Frank King: millennials and Gen. Z. Are more forthcoming in text. So they created a suite prevention text line, text, the word Help to seven, four, one, seven, four, one.

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[PFO] Frank King: That's really There'd be somebody roughly their age on the they end of text back. It's so good.

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[PFO] Frank King: Thank you. Thank you for writing those frank one note for your friend whose daughter is struggling.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes, what? There's something in suicidality called burdensomeness.

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[PFO] Frank King: Many people who are thinking of suicide, believe they are burdened, and as a world their family in the world would be better off without them. It's irrational. But that's the way. I knew my wife would be better off without me, because I had a million dollar life of church. She would be heartbroken, but no longer broke,

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[PFO] Frank King: so I would recommend your friend every now and then, at odd moments. You

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[PFO] Frank King: reassure her daughter this way,

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[PFO] Frank King: honey. I know Sometimes it probably crosses your mind

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[PFO] Frank King: that we would be better off about you,

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[PFO] Frank King: but in no uncertain terms. Would we ever be better off

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[PFO] Frank King: without you? That's really good. That's really good. Thank you, Frank. I appreciate that very much.

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Jane Atkinson: Okay.

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Jane Atkinson: So

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[PFO] Frank King: So now to our talk at hand, and

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[PFO] Frank King: well, we did want to cover that and apologies for those of you who showed up for you right now so

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[PFO] Frank King: well, and it dovetails into that. The J. The after I came so close to killing myself,

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[PFO] Frank King: and and I look back at my family history. Something called generational depression and suicide runs in my family. My grandmother, my great aunt, my mother, as I say in my keynote, more nuts in my family than in a squirrel food. And you're allowed to say that. Because why are you allowed to say that?

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[PFO] Frank King: Because i'm living with two mental illnesses. One is major depressive disorder, and the other is chronic suicidal ideation. In speaking, in in comedy you can make fun of any group to which you belong which you belong. So

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[PFO] Frank King: just so. You know where the lines are in the sand. Everybody we clarify that.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes, great story in the book i'm like, I think this.

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[PFO] Frank King: They have friends, some people, and you said, well, i'm one of them, so we make sure that um I am not because I'm. One of them got included in the book.

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Jane Atkinson: Okay.

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[PFO] Frank King: So i'm one of them.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes, I've come close to time by suicide.

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[PFO] Frank King: I meeting planners call me, and said, Look, Frank, we love you. We can't pay you five grand just to be funny,

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[PFO] Frank King: you know you've got to give us a content. You've got to teach our at something, and I was at a loss. And that was right in that time when and that the economic shift happened, and all of a sudden shareholders and stakeholders were starting to demand are alive from their speakers.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yeah. And you got caught up in that because you were straight up. Humor! That was one of the first things cut, and that is why your business had a very difficult time, and that's why today

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[PFO] Frank King: it's no longer kind of Ah, it's cool to be a straight up motivational speaker, and people used to think that that was quite fluffy. You have to have some. Ah, roi in there. And now I think most people come out, come at it from that. At least our students do. They come at it from that perspective. They are always thinking, How am I going to help somebody solve a problem or What's the return of investment? Prior. So you figured out

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[PFO] Frank King: This was your roi.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes, however, I had. No, I at all. I had always wanted to do that make a living and a difference from when I sold insurance, and saw Zig and Brian Tracy and all those. I thought I could do that if I just had some to teach me.

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[PFO] Frank King: So I hope you Don't, mind I I took your philosophy of pick a lane, and then I read Judy Carter's book, The message of you, love Judy, turning your life into a money-making, speaking career, and I went into the book thinking I got nothing, and she walked her through the process. And about halfway through I thought I got it.

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[PFO] Frank King: I've got a great story. If I could just get a certification in suicide prevention, you'll get trained.

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[PFO] Frank King: I could keynote on suicide prevention, and then the second hurdle was,

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[PFO] Frank King: How do I get meeting planners to believe, after two and a half decades of stand up, that I can do something serious.

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Jane Atkinson: And Now you have to re-teach your clients on how to think of you.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yep. So my wife said, How about a ted talk? And I said famously, What's a Ted Talk, and she described it, and by chance that week I got an email from a Tedx. I've been V to her British Columbia, and they said we would like you to apply. So I applied, and I got it, and

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[PFO] Frank King: that was, and it's you know. I'm talking about suicide prevention. And so that's a very serious topic, and I was able to prove to everybody that.

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[PFO] Frank King: And then, by picking the lane of suicide prevention speaking and adding humor, it's I am the mental health comedian. It's kind of an odd combination, but because of the element of comic relief, and because I have a lived experience, I can joke about it or tell funny personal stories about it and get away with it.

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[PFO] Frank King: And somebody said, Do you not get book because you're a comic? I said, No, the reverse is true.

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Jane Atkinson: Yeah,

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[PFO] Frank King: they want the humor, the lived experience, and of course the learning outcomes the objectives.

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Jane Atkinson: Do you think? What do you think we are on the mental health kind of wave? I feel like we're just at the very beginning of the wave, and there's a lot more to come, I would say more so in the Us. Than in Canada. I think in Canada we're a little bit further wrong,

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Jane Atkinson: and you've done Ted Talks in Vancouver. So perhaps you might have some insight on that.

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[PFO] Frank King: Well, the the I do colleges as well as corporate, and the last idea I saw said that a full sixty percent of college students, self-report anxiety, and comorbidities, and forty percent of high school students and that's double what it was ten years ago.

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[PFO] Frank King: So it's getting worse. My last Ted Talk, my seventh one was

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[PFO] Frank King: digital media addiction, smartphones, social media and suicide, because I believe there's a It may not be a correlation or causation. But there is a connection,

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Jane Atkinson: a hundred percent. Yes,

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[PFO] Frank King: yep. So it probably amplified that for all those students, especially Don't, you think?

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes,

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[PFO] Frank King: yes, because you're

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Jane Atkinson: on top of everything else.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yeah, isolated. So you're string and you're stringing your your phone screen or your computer speed far more.

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[PFO] Frank King: So The good news is that the suicide rate in the Us. Went down one point five percent during the pandemic.

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Jane Atkinson: No,

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[PFO] Frank King: they think it's because an extra million people reached out to the suicide prevention lifeline.

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[PFO] Frank King: Maybe they finally figured out that look. I need help. The only groups that had an increase were teenagers and college students.

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Jane Atkinson: Well, for those of you who are dealing with it directly in your families, or, personally, my part absolutely goes out to you, Covid. It's been so difficult, and I don't feel like we're over.

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Jane Atkinson: You know the the whole thing yet. There's still so much more fall out, and I think even more to come. So be interesting to see that, but in terms of

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[PFO] Frank King: in terms of your topic. So you've done seven. Tedx talks on this topic with different spins on the top.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes,

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Jane Atkinson: because Tedx talks about a little bit about the rules you can't have given this talk before. Is that a rule?

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[PFO] Frank King: It is A. It's not a rule. It's a preference of the Tedx Committee. They don't want to come to their Tedx and do something. You did at another tax.

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[PFO] Frank King: Okay. So I see at another Tedx. But

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[PFO] Frank King: but if you're a professional speaker and you have a talk that's nailed, can you go and give a Tedx on that top.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes, up to eighteen minutes up to eighteen minutes. Okay,

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[PFO] Frank King: Some of the groups aren't fond of professional speakers, because a lot of professional figures figured that was a great way to brand promote, and so forth.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes, so i'm sure they were flooded with professional speakers,

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[PFO] Frank King: but I don't make any bones about. I don't lie and say, i'm whatever I tell them. I'm a professional speaker when I apply,

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[PFO] Frank King: and it's up to each committee as to whether that's Ok or not.

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Jane Atkinson: Okay?

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[PFO] Frank King: Um.

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Jane Atkinson: So what would be the advantage for somebody to? And I already know Most people know what it is. But what is the biggest advantage of a Tedx talk. Is it simply exposure

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[PFO] Frank King: uh three things visibility, credibility, market ability.

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[PFO] Frank King: Prior to that, it actually dovetails with your idea of picking a lane. The Tedx forces you because it's one idea worth spreading. So when i'm working with my speakers, I say you have got to pick an idea,

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[PFO] Frank King: and they're not looking a thesis they want, you know. They want half a dozen learning outcomes or learning objectives and a couple of reaction. I So it actually causes my speaker clients to focus on what is their number? One passion

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[PFO] Frank King: then, and to do the Ted based on that. And then they expand that to a forty, five minute keynote,

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[PFO] Frank King: and then we figure out who the ideal client who's going to pay him for this, so it helps them pick a Lane, because you cannot. You have to have a lane to do a Tedx otherwise, and to drill down on one point for eighteen minutes is such a good

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Jane Atkinson: learning process. Don't you think I mean? I think everyone should really do it. Would you say that there's like

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Jane Atkinson: a part of your speech that could be like your opening story in any sixty minutes. Maybe eighteen minutes could be

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Jane Atkinson: a Tedx, or because it doesn't have the beginning, the middle, and the ending kind of the same way I don't know

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[PFO] Frank King: well, and they'll tell you in the in the In the information that you'll read about Tedx. They'll say a story is not a Tedx and a Tedx. It's not your story, however. Your story is part of a Tedx, and most often it goes like this: The first third of the Tedx. How many every minutes they give you

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[PFO] Frank King: your hero or heroin's journey, as Judy Carter would say, your messes and stresses

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[PFO] Frank King: The middle part is now. Here's what I learned in all that,

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[PFO] Frank King: and the last part is, and this is what they ask you at the audition,

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[PFO] Frank King: What are you going to teach the audience from what you learned and what you went through, What are the learning, objectives, and action items for the audience. So your story is roughly a third, and each each ten x that I did. My origin story is pretty much the same in each one of them.

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[PFO] Frank King: Um, but there's a different angle. We were talking about flashpoint. I did one on my flashpoint, and so I gave my background. So they they take me, you know, as a comedian. That's I always open a keynote with You're probably wondering a comedian Talk on depression, suicide as I work.

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[PFO] Frank King: So I go through a little bit of my backstory to give me credibility,

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[PFO] Frank King: and then I jump in. In that case it was my fourth Tedx talk. It was called Suicide, the secret of my success. Dead Man talking, and the title in somefell, by the way, were good enough. I didn't have to audition. They said, No, you're on. Which told me

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[PFO] Frank King: that that is the key to getting the audition is they get one hundred or two hundred applications. And you're on the selection. You're not looking for a reason to give somebody an audition. You're looking for a reason to throw them in the no pile and go to the next.

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[PFO] Frank King: So when they saw suicide, the secret of my success, which is counterintuitive and dead Man talking, which is a play on Dead Men walking. They're like, Okay, man, this is fine. You're on.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yeah, but that was my flash point, if I may at as in your book, where was that you?

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Jane Atkinson: The point is when a speaker's career kind of goes to a new level just for those of you who haven't refreshed lately on the wealthy speaker,

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[PFO] Frank King: and who hasn't?

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[PFO] Frank King: That's a

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[PFO] Frank King: well. And it Was it rather dramatic? Actually, Um, I have major depressive disorder, which is director and chronic suicidal radiation, which means for me and people like me, Suicide is always on the menu as a solution for problems large and small. My car broke down a couple of years ago. I had three thoughts: get it fixed by a new, and I could just kill this.

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[PFO] Frank King: That's. And, by the way, when I speak and tell that story. Since two thousand and fourteen there's been at least one person in the audience, as that has no idea, has a name, they think they're just some kind of freak and all alone. I'm telling you people come up to me afterwards crying, You know I I thought I was all alone that I heard you say that out loud. The woman said to me, and I wept.

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[PFO] Frank King: There's a little roi for you so, and very therapeutic for me as someone who lives in middle illness. So

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[PFO] Frank King: the um

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[PFO] Frank King: see Where was I? The chronic was? Oh, I know i'm married to my high school sweetheart. It's It's January of eighty four. I'm. Married to my high school sweetheart a wonderful woman, but we did not belong together. We had nothing in common, you know, opposites attract. She was pregnant, and I wouldn't figure, but

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[PFO] Frank King: and and and I was selling insurance from her father's company, and it's a great business, but it wasn't for me, and I actually had this thought going down highway, one sixty, three at five in the afternoon in January of one thousand nine hundred and eighty four.

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[PFO] Frank King: Why, don't you just kill yourself.

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[PFO] Frank King: And I thought,

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[PFO] Frank King: Okay,

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[PFO] Frank King: if I don't make a change or changes and start doing comedy, going to the open Mics where I think I but where? I know. I feel like that was what I was born for.

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[PFO] Frank King: Then I'm going to kill myself sooner rather than later. My second thought was very empowering. Well, I could divorce my wife quit my job.

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[PFO] Frank King: Try comedy. If it works great. If it doesn't, I always kill myself. The

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[PFO] Frank King: So that was my flash point. I mean, imagine someone who has absolutely nothing to lose by trying this right?

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[PFO] Frank King: Yeah, I mean, I if I say put I was gonna die. So

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Jane Atkinson: you're literally in a dead end. Job.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes, exactly. And it's not uncommon, I believe, for entrepreneurs oftentimes to have a very similar thought process.

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[PFO] Frank King: They're living a life that they don't think really is theirs with people they don't think they belong with. They've got this dream. They know they should be doing something else, and if they don't, they're going to kill themselves.

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[PFO] Frank King: So that was my flash point. I realized. Well, I've got nothing to do. Fortunately, you know. Open mic. It worked out, You

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[PFO] Frank King: you know I've been. I've been a full-time stand-up comic for thirty seven years. I must tell you, though I've thought about writing a keynote called What could you do if you didn't know no better, because I had no idea how hard it was to make a living there instead of coming.

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Jane Atkinson: Well stand up comics. I've often I've known a few of them, obviously, who have crossed over to the light side because it's so hard it's such a grind. Give us the just very quickly, and then we need to

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Jane Atkinson: go into more ted talk. Stuff. Here, give us the difference between stand-up comedy and the professional speaking circuit, and you alluded it to it earlier. But

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[PFO] Frank King: yes, it's again. It pays a whole lot better. And Judy would say, Judy Carter, Yeah.

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[PFO] Frank King: And this is why I bought the book. You, Frank, you need to go from Funny Speaker to speaker, who is funny.

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[PFO] Frank King: Keep that skill set, but add content,

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[PFO] Frank King: and the difference again is a good comic who nobody knows who they are can make maybe two hundred and fifty, three hundred a night.

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Jane Atkinson: Ok? So that's what I was after some actual

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[PFO] Frank King: yeah,

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[PFO] Frank King: one thousand five hundred a week if they're headlining. And you know I make more than that for fifteen minutes, like, you know, I mean. It's just crazy. It's just

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Jane Atkinson: commas and zeros.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yeah, I it. I

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[PFO] Frank King: I tell my clients when I tell them what I think they should be charging as a base. My clients, I say, let's start at five grand plus trouble.

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[PFO] Frank King: The practice in the mirror in the bathroom, saying, This five thousand plus travel five grand. Let's try a fivek plus travel, so it just rolls off your tongue.

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Jane Atkinson: Yes,

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[PFO] Frank King: you can charge less,

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[PFO] Frank King: but

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[PFO] Frank King: quote retail.

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[PFO] Frank King: So. Ah, that's again Why, speaking, and in comedy, you know you're at their club. You're just one of unless you are famous. They didn't come to see you. Yes, when you do a corporate engagement. The committee has selected you.

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[PFO] Frank King: They're paying you a great deal of money to speak, and the audience, you know you're kind of the star of the show,

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[PFO] Frank King: and and so it and the accommodations and the travel,

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[PFO] Frank King: I mean, I travel in coach, but you know i'm at oftentimes a like a Phoenician, a five-star hotel with a you know free bathrooms, and every now and then i'll take a picture of my room before I put my bags on the bed, and i'll put him on Facebook, and i'll say, you know, if you are my age and you're still doing clubs, you maybe do it.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yeah. And and maybe the picture is with the motel six next to it.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yeah,

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Jane Atkinson: it's like, okay. I recognize that you had to pay your dues, but you didn't pay your dues,

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Jane Atkinson: and you're here, and you're on the circuit, and sometimes you get the red carpet rolled out for you, and i'm sure sometimes not. Exactly. But let's talk about

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[PFO] Frank King: You have to apply for a Tedx event. Talk about that! And then how do you score an addition?

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes, you have to apply. There are application links. However, Ted does not make it easy to find them.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes, you, if you go to for your audience, go to Ted, Com. Forward, Tedx, for events, and

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[PFO] Frank King: you will find, and you put in the region us month. Let's say February, because there is always a long lead up, and then two thousand and twenty three. You will find all the ones in the Us. In February. But

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[PFO] Frank King: what you won't find is a link to apply. They make it that extra step, I think, to discourage people.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes, you really have to wear your kickers, So how do you find it?

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[PFO] Frank King: Well, you take? Let's say It's Tedx Nashville. You copy and place that into another

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[PFO] Frank King: Google window, and you'd look for Tedx, Nashville Com. Or Tedx Nashville org or their facebook page where it's an actual.

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[PFO] Frank King: It's an actual um, you know exactly their site, and oftentimes at their side they'll say a lot of speak. Here's another trap. Sometimes i'll say nominated speaker, and I think they do that because people go well whom I get get to nominate me. Well, here's something they don't tell you you can always nominate yourself.

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Jane Atkinson: Oh, okay, interesting. Okay. So you're looking for. Apply or nominate yourself potentially.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yeah. And that is ah, that's very helpful. Just to know that you can go and look at all the events. That is a very cool. We're going to put that link. Let's say it again, and i'll have Monica put it in the show notes.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes, Ted com for slash, Tedx for slash events, plural

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[PFO] Frank King: and that way you can sort by region and by month.

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[PFO] Frank King: I've got to put it in

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[PFO] Frank King: Toronto. So the other day we went looking, and then we went to the official page, Tedx dot com for sl. I said X for it, and sure enough, there's one in May, I think, already coming gone. But

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[PFO] Frank King: we went to the the Google machine, and there's a Tedx, Toronto Com. And so I said, Look, why don't you do this? Subscribe to their email list, so that next year, when the window opens for application, they send you a link to apply.

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Okay.

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[PFO] Frank King: So anytime you go to a a Tedx site, an actual website. Then I would subscribe to their email list because that way you'll you'll you'll know when the and I provide my clients with a list of half dozen dozen every couple of weeks. I call them and check them out and make sure that it's a link still good,

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[PFO] Frank King: and make sure that you know the wind is open for application,

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[PFO] Frank King: and they apply Okay, So you have applied. Will they let you know if you have scored an audition? Or is there another thing that we can be proactive about audit auditions.

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[PFO] Frank King: There is a unfortunately

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it's hard to get a no

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[PFO] Frank King: of the times you'll never hear back.

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[PFO] Frank King: Oh, I I think if I were on the selection committee, and I know how much work it is to fill out an application and get it in that I would just send about, You know, a nice form letter. You know we had so many people, you know, and i'm sorry. Please, please, please, please apply next year.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yeah.

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[PFO] Frank King: Uh, But if you get the audition.

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[PFO] Frank King: There's actually a half-step in there Three of my clients this year, this last couple of months. They back up one of our nine cats rescue.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes,

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[PFO] Frank King: had a parcel delivered to the door. It's a miracle. We didn't. So there you go. There you go.

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Jane Atkinson: Okay.

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[PFO] Frank King: So

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Jane Atkinson: a half step.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yeah. The half step was, they said, Look,

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[PFO] Frank King: we like your idea.

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[PFO] Frank King: You've stated the problem really. Well,

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[PFO] Frank King: what you don't have. What we want you to tell us is the how what you're going to tell them is going to solve that problem.

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[PFO] Frank King: So they actually gave him a chance to apply essentially again, with more how the

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[PFO] Frank King: and they gave, and they gave a couple of links to Tedx. Talks, they thought did a really good job about doing that, and which I forwarded to all my clients and said, Look, this is kind of what they're looking for. You know your story the problem. But you've got to have the how, What's the solution.

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Jane Atkinson: That's really good. Ok. So what is expected of you at an audition.

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[PFO] Frank King: Oftentimes they will say, you've got an audition

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[PFO] Frank King: they'll Oh, there is another half step. I'm sorry they oftentimes will say, please send us a five-minute overview,

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[PFO] Frank King: usually with the application. They want a sixty to ninety-seco over overview that you did on zoom. They'll say, let's have a five minute over five minutes, By the way, is eight hundred words in a

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Jane Atkinson: minutes of your talk. Is that what you're doing,

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[PFO] Frank King: you can do five minutes of your actual talk, which is what I did in Vancouver to get the first one, or you can do a five minute overview of the talk. Yep, you're talking about the talk.

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[PFO] Frank King: One hundred and sixty words per minute is the pace you want one hundred and sixty words per minute, so that five minutes is eight hundred words.

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[PFO] Frank King: So i'll ask my clients, you know. Write me up a script for five minutes if it goes over one hundred words. Don't worry about it. I'll edit it down to eight hundred words. So this and and be very careful. If they say five minutes. They don't need five minutes, and one second they mean five, because if they, if you go over it may tell them you can't follow the direction

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[PFO] Frank King: right. I

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Jane Atkinson: You do not want to go over during your actual Tedx Talk like that is the biggest. No, no,

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it's a no, no, on any stage.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yep,

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Jane Atkinson: let's just say that for sure. But on the Ted or Tedx stage it's a massive No, no, right?

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes, and Ted has three choices with your tennis, they can post it. They can post it with an editorial note if they disagree with something, or they can not post it.

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[PFO] Frank King: And I've had three talks not posted, not because I went over.

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[PFO] Frank King: I'm not sure, really why, because they won't, tell you, and they won't edit it. The best talk I ever gave was in Durango, Colorado.

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[PFO] Frank King: I got a standing ovation. It was called, and again I didn't have to audition. They liked the title so much. It was called mental health and the orgasm.

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[PFO] Frank King: Treat your depression single-handedly,

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[PFO] Frank King: and they loved it, and the crowd loved it

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[PFO] Frank King: It was full of facts about the healthful benefits of, you know. So there was. There were some, you know, takeaways for the audience about how helpful these things are. Low in your blood pressure. Your cortisol, you know, not pro prostate cancer or less chant, you know. I mean it was. It was a It was a lot of stuff in the talk, but a lot of fun.

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[PFO] Frank King: Oh, yes, but you must have said something that crossed a line. I mean that one is fraught with danger. Wouldn't you say?

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes, I knew that, and they knew that. That's why they put me right before lunch, because they said, we want to have a talk right for lunch that everybody will be talking about that

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[PFO] Frank King: this is,

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[PFO] Frank King: and that worked.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes, and so what I recommend, and what I did on my last one is, I offered the Committee A. To to donate a videographer to the event

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[PFO] Frank King: I was going to hire and have them record in four K. A professional lidiographer. The entire event and turn over the entire raw footage to the committee, so that everybody's video on Youtube would be just that much better, and I would have a copy,

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[PFO] Frank King: and I can't put it up on Youtube, because they would catch that. But I can't put it on my window and use it for market, so I would recommend because they have those choices. I would recommend donating a videographer if you're going to do it today.

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Jane Atkinson: Okay,

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Okay,

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Jane Atkinson: Um, You get picked. Then I'm, assuming they're going to give you emails with details on what to expect and how to prepare, and things like that. What are some things that people might not know is going to be a directive.

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[PFO] Frank King: Well, and once you once you get the you know, if you do your five minutes, and you and you add the house and you get the audition. Then they do a live zoom chat with the selection committee. The one question they always ask is great. I did, Jane.

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[PFO] Frank King: Now, what are you going to teach our audience? Second question they always ask. They are terrified of junk science. So if you put a factor figure like sixty percent of college students for self-report and anxiety. Okay, right, where did that come from? So I have my clients make a list of links. If they're going to put a factor, figure, percentage, or whatever. Or if you make a State people who meditate live longer. Okay,

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[PFO] Frank King: where did you find that.

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Okay?

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[PFO] Frank King: And then the local committee will ask you for that. And then before Ted posted on Youtube, chances are they'll come back and say, let's take a look at those links,

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[PFO] Frank King: making sure that what you quoted is actually something that's legitimate. Now let's say you lucky enough. They usually select three or four dozen people to audition, and then they select twelve to fifteen. Dax would be on the stage.

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[PFO] Frank King: Uh they assign you a volunteer coach,

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[PFO] Frank King: so the volunteer coach and I and you work on your Tedx

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[PFO] Frank King: to make it as good as absolutely possible.

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All right.

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[PFO] Frank King: And then you know you. And by the way, on many Tedx applications. Let's say it was Tedx, Toronto, and I applied, and they asked me, Frank, be in Toronto on November fifteenth, for an organizational meeting. I check. Yes,

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[PFO] Frank King: because I've never actually had to fly to an organizational meeting, because they understand You're coming in by you. You live in Oregon. You're not going to be so, but I think they do that trip people up. I can't be interrupted on November fifteenth.

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[PFO] Frank King: Anything they asked you to check. Yes, you know, to get to check it out

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Jane Atkinson: agreeable, and then work it out on the back end.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes, exactly.

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Jane Atkinson: Ok, I like that. They fact-check because I have a big issue with people spreading things that aren't backjacked.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes. Ah, I don't like that. That. Actually makes the organization. It goes up a level where my eyes Okay, what kind of speaker or idea may get rejected out of hand?

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[PFO] Frank King: So that question. And then I want to make sure we'll offer up. We'll make sure that if people want to know how to get in touch with you, they can do that.

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[PFO] Frank King: Well, they are. And this is stated in the boilerplate information that the big Ted gives the Tedx folks. They're not looking. They're not looking for professional speakers, not to say they won't book one.

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Jane Atkinson: Yes,

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[PFO] Frank King: but they you know that that can be a red flag with them. They're not looking for motivational speeches or inspirational speech. Now you've got an inspirational storage,

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[PFO] Frank King: but they're not looking for motivational, inspirational, and personal development.

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[PFO] Frank King: If you're doing a Tedx application, I would avoid the word coach

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[PFO] Frank King: all together, you know I would, because what you. What do you do for a living? I would figure out a way to say it without saying the word coach, because every coach and their sister and brother would like to have a Tedx scene like, and so they are. You know again that's

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[PFO] Frank King: leads into personal development. Now I have figures who do that, and we have gotten them. Tedx. The trick is in How you fill out the application. You have to hide the vegetables you have to give them the meat they're looking for, and then of the vegetables underneath. So they don't really notice that you're

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Jane Atkinson: them up in the blender.

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[PFO] Frank King: Exactly. You'reay the vegetables so it's all just part of me, love, All right.

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[PFO] Frank King: Yes, uh, And may I say this? Uh, most of the next companies coaching companies, and there are good ones. Uh, you know I I've yet to come across one. That was a scam. Actually. Um they usually do. And uh zoom individually, one on one once

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[PFO] Frank King: and then everything after that is filling out forms and groups that my business model is. We do an hour a week on zoom together, one on one, filling out one or two applications each week. It's a bit of a numbers game.

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Jane Atkinson: Oh, I see. Okay.

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[PFO] Frank King: I discovered about a year in Jane that most of my clients were speakers, and so but

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[PFO] Frank King: so included in my little package is, if you want to use this to up your game and speaking, or to start your big career. We work on the speaker marketing nuts and bolts, you know. If you have a website, give a one page or do you have a demo video. Just just get them turn key ready for meeting planners.

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[PFO] Frank King: The other ten excursion companies when they give you the Tedx. That's what they do

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[PFO] Frank King: you know, here's your Tedx. It's I'm on Youtube have a great life.

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[PFO] Frank King: My,

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[PFO] Frank King: but since I work in speakers, I I can't just leave. I can't. And my program. J. I call it till death. Do as part. Okay. Tell me how people can get and touch what what's the best website for them to go to to learn more about how you do your work.

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[PFO] Frank King: Your Tedx Coach Com or Tedx Coach Com. Okay, I said. Final question earlier. But i'm going to give you one more.

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Jane Atkinson: What's the best number One quickest way to leverage a Tedx talk?

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[PFO] Frank King: Well, if you have the money,

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[PFO] Frank King: I have a contact. Who I've used. Personally, I always always vent my vendors who can get you a million legitimate

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[PFO] Frank King: on Youtube Now, not not many. If any conversions, but dragon rights first longer. Bio is that dog on one million views. First line of the introduction is that dog got one million views, I mean. So it is possible to buy legitimate views from a legitimate company.

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Jane Atkinson: All right.

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[PFO] Frank King: Second thing is, I would put in a little Tedx Poly stamp with your red letters in the background on your website, and I would make sure that when you do a sizzle, re they that

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[PFO] Frank King: clip part of that leads your sizzle real. So they see the Tedx thing right away.

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Jane Atkinson: Okay,

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Jane Atkinson: Yeah, that's great. I I think that it definitely adds credibility for people, and you use three terms: visibility, credibility and marketability

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[PFO] Frank King: very, very valid pranking. Thank you so much. You have given us so much and and insider information here today. I really really appreciate it, and

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Jane Atkinson: just really thank you for being on the show today.

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[PFO] Frank King: Well, Jane, let's face it. I am as successful as a superintendent speaker, because I did a Jane that it's a thing I picked a lane you did. I'm very, very happy that that has paid off for you, Fred;

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Jane Atkinson: and if those of you who haven't really quite yet done that. I'm hoping that this is a good testimonial towards doing it, and I also hope that you'll go out and get a Tedx talk, because it really does help you start to bring your ideas into focus

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[PFO] Frank King: and niche. Thank you all for being here. Thank you for listening in. And with that we will say the season we'll be speakers bye, for now everyone.

Highlights you won’t want to miss:

  • Frank’s business model. [1:30]
  • Blending the serious with levity. [4:30]
  • Find out what you’re dealing with. [9:00]
  • Clients demand ROI. [15:30]
  • The upside to doing a TEDx Talk. [20:30]
  • TED doesn’t make it easy. [30:30]
  • What TED doesn’t tell you.[39:00]
  • How to leverage your TEDx Talk. [43:30]


Frank is a Motivational Public Speaker who uses his life lessons to start the conversation giving people permission to give voice to their feelings and experiences surrounding depression and suicide. And doing it by coming out, as it were, standing in his truth, and doing it with humor. Frank believes that where there is humor, there is hope; where there is laughter, there is life, and nobody dies laughing. The right person, at the right time, with the right information, can save a life.

If you have been thinking about pursuing a TEDx Talk and could use some great advice guiding you through the process, you simply can’t afford to miss this episode.

I hope you’ll download and learn.

Links:

Frank’s website
Frank’s videos
TEDx Talks
Where you really need to go
Judy Carter’s book

Suicide Prevention connections:

Lifeline US: Dial 988
Suicide & Crisis Hotlines USA
Talk Suicide Canada: (833) 456-4566
Suicide Prevention Canada

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