Welcome to Stuff I Learned Yesterday. My name is Darrell Darnell, I’ve visited NYC once, but the trip lasted less than 24 hours, and I believe that if you aren’t learning, you aren’t living.

Dallas, Orlando, Denver, Oklahoma City, Tampa, Fort Worth, Chicago, Las Vegas, New York City, Atlanta, Seattle, and Nashville are all cities where I’ve been invited to speak about podcasting. In today’s episode, I’ll share the story of the time an audience member told me my presentation was making the world better.

I was 14 the first time I stepped on stage to speak in front of an audience. It was an extremely nerve wracking experience and I was terribly ill prepared. I’d been asked to speak at my grandparents church for the Sunday night service. The pastor expected me to talk for around 30 minutes, but I only spoke for 10 minutes. It wasn’t just the duration that was off. My presentation lacked any depth or insight and it was really just 10 minutes of stammering and awkwardness by everyone.

I’m not sure why, but the pastor invited me to speak again the following year. I was determined to learn from my previous experience and bring something to the audience that was well-prepared, coherent, and (hopefully) insightful. That presentation was much better, but still not great. At that time in my life I thought God might be calling me to full-time ministry. I’ll share more about that in a future episode of the podcast.

After high school the only public speaking I did were the 3 presentations I had to give in my college speech class. By that time I was shifting my focus toward advancing my career at the bookstore I worked at, and I soon dropped out of college. Once I advanced to the manager-in-training program, the district manager recommended I join a Toastmasters group. That turned out to be a very beneficial step in my progress as a public speaker. I was in that program for less than a year and gave 2 speeches during my time in the group. Each time I was awarded speaker of the week, and it was largely due to the things I’d learned through the experience in the group that led me to winning the awards.

Throughout my career, I often spoke in front of various employee groups ranging from 10 people up to 100 people. I’ve used my public speaking experience extensively in my entrepreneurial journey. Not only that, but the one-on-one interactions that I had with customers during the 10 years I spent working at the store level have helped me tremendously during one-on-one Zoom calls I have with prospective clients.

In a recent episode, I mentioned that when I quit my job to go into podcast production full time, I had 2 clients that I was serving and that I’m currently serving around 150 clients. The journey from 2 to 150 has been full of peaks and valleys. In the fall of 2016 I attended a podcast conference in Chicago. Not only did I speak at that conference, but I also put up a booth in the expo hall. I was overwhelmed by the foot traffic at the booth and walked away from that podcast with several new clients. 

A couple of weeks after that, my client with the largest audience published an episode breaking down her process for creating her podcast. She also made a free PDF guide available to listeners. In both the podcast and the guide she mentioned my company. This led to several new clients as well! 

After that conference in Chicago, I decided to step away from conference speaking. Up to that point, I’d focused my sessions around one of three topics: how to create and grow a fan podcast, how to choose the right equipment for your podcast, or how to efficiently edit a podcast. 

The conference leaders were trying to keep their presentations fresh, so each year they asked speakers to bring a presentation that had not been given before. Since I didn’t feel like I could talk about equipment or editing in a different way than I’d already done, I decided I’d said all I had to say and I stopped submitting session proposals. Afterall, there were dozens of other qualified individuals out there, and I was happy to let them bring their own voice and perspective to these topics.

I still attended podcast conferences each year and I still had a booth on the expo floor, but that was it. I didn’t speak. Then, in December of 2019, something amazing happened! My business had grown to the point where we were serving 100 active clients! It was a huge milestone and, as probably no surprise to you, I decided to reflect and write down lessons I’d learned along the journey.

With permission from the group admin, I shared those lessons with a Facebook group for podcast editors. It was a lengthy post of over 2,000 words sharing 10 lessons. The group founder and admin, Steve Stewart, loved it. He told me that I should use it for the basis of a session for that year’s podcast conference. To say I was reluctant is an understatement. The truth is, I outright refused. I wasn’t interested in doing a session that focused on me and my journey.  I didn’t want to do a session that was all about me or come across as boasting in any way.  He kept working on me and eventually pitched me a concept that made sense. So we moved forward with it.

We worked very intentionally to pull out 3 of the lessons and present those lessons to the audience in a way that would help them with their business. It was not about me and my achievements, it was all about teaching them to grow their own business.  Steve pitched the idea of him joining me on stage where he would field me questions and also add in his own insight as well.  

We pitched the idea to the conference and it was accepted. Much to my shock, the session was a hit. So many people attended, it was standing room only. It was the most popular session I’d ever been a part of!

After we wrapped up our session one person approached me and told me they were impressed with my humility.  This is huge for me not only because I was intentional about that when building the session. It was huge because  I once lost every friend I had due to lack of humility. It was one of the lowest moments I’ve ever experienced in my life, and I talked about that in episode 3 of SILY.  It taught me so much and I constantly work to keep my ego in check. I don’t always succeed at that, but I’m grateful that Steve worked to help make that day one of the good days.

Another person approached me and told me that the info we shared in our session will help make the world better.  I was struck by how such a powerful statement could be directed toward a session geared for podcast editing business owners. Of course, trying to make the world a better place is one of the things I talk a lot about on this podcast and it’s one of the primary reasons I do this podcast. I had no reason to believe that either of these people knew the personal significance of what they were telling me.  

Here’s what I learned

For two years I’d walked away from public speaking because I felt I didn’t have anything fresh or worthwhile to say. I felt my voice was not as important or interesting as others and that having others fill those roles was just fine. But that day I walked away with a heart of gratitude that God put Steve and these two people in my life to remind me not to believe the lies that keep me from being my best self. I was reminded that God can use me to help and inspire others, so long as I am willing to make myself available.

That day I also learned that there was an entire category of people out there which I was capable of helping, but I’d never realized they existed. What I mean is, I never thought about other business owners like me or viewed myself as someone qualified or capable of helping them. That day opened my eyes to that reality and I’ve spent the last 4 years speaking to those audiences. Last year I even discovered a way to create a session that combined elements of my early sessions with elements of my most recent sessions. 

Making the world a better place doesn’t just happen from stages in front of crowds of strangers. Whether it’s your family, co-workers, colleagues, or a room full of total strangers, you have an opportunity before you. That opportunity is one that allows you to communicate love and encouragement, truth and compassion, kindness and generosity. Look around you, ponder, and consider how you might be able to make the world better for even just one person this week. We can all be world changers, and even if it’s only for the world of one, it’s worth the effort. 

I’m Darrell Darnell, and this has been Stuff I Learned Yesterday.

I want you to be a part of the next Monday Mailbag on July 29th! Monday Mailbag is your opportunity to Share what YOU’VE learned, so that other listeners and I can learn from YOU.  It can be a message as short as 30 seconds or several minutes long.  It really doesn’t matter just as long as it’s something that will benefit others.  You can send in questions or responses to my SILY episodes, and I’ll respond to them via Monday Mailbag episodes. You can participate in Monday Mailbags by visiting the Golden Spiral Media listener feedback page at goldenspirlamedia.com/feedback.