Don’t Tank Your TED Talk

Dr. Relly Nadler: Today we have the opportunity to talk with Hayley Foster and we are going to talk about Don’t Tank Your TED Talk. As a co-founder of a first large-scale TEDx in history, Hayley is called a short-talk expert. She has worked with hundreds of smart people to deliver their messages that matter in TEDx and high-stake venues internationally. She has a book, which we’ll be talking about, Don’t Tank Your TED Talk: Twelve mistakes professional speakers make, that is essential as a speaker’s resource. She guides thought leaders to discover original, intellectual property and gives Delivering Brilliance trainings worldwide.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: I’m very excited about our show today with Hayley Foster. I just adore her. She is an amazing asset to speakers around the world, so any TEDx that you have every remember seeing, you can be guaranteed that Hayley has been behind some of the talent and their effectiveness. We are happy to give Hayley an opportunity to share her amazing, loving, and supportive spirit with so many who have always heard about TEDx and would love to understand how to be a speaker on TEDx to get their message out. Why TEDx was created. How it embodies the best thought leaders who don’t necessarily have to be professional speakers. Those of us who have been professional speakers need to understand that that format is very different.

We talk about leaders being the heartbeat of an organization and leaders underestimating just how much influence they have over others—it’s important for everyone to understand how important being a speaker in a TEDx venue needs to be different than your average speaking venue.

Hayley, welcome to the show!

Hayley Foster: Well, hello there Cathy. It’s really nice to be on here with you.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: We are delighted to have you and you know when I met you through a common friend, it was fascinating. Patrick Mudge, who is a former Navy Special Warfare member was talking to Hayley about some of his work and connected me with Hayley and I was lucky enough to find time on her schedule. We each traveled for almost 2 hours to have lunch. I found out that TED creator Richard Saul Wurman was active in developing the concept, the TED venue was acquired by Chris Andersen in 2001 who added world-renowned experts in pretty much every field and using short presentation format.

In 2009, TEDx NASA launched a global online program with over 1450 live attendees and 78,000 online in ten countries.

Hayley and her work catapulted into the limelight as the preeminent speaker-coach for that program and for programs ever since. She’s a life-long learner, a coach, and speaking expert. She is a dynamic personality and she now enjoys the role of organizing short talks for great minds across the TEDx conference world.

Hayley Foster: We such a fabulous time at lunch.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Sounds like a lot of energy there, which is really great.

Hayley, let me ask you a couple of questions as we jump into this. When you think about—we’ll get more details about actually what you do and what you bring to folks—but, who are some of the people if you kind of go back in your past, who have informed you, who you have learned the most from?

Hayley Foster: Well, let me think about this. There is one person, her name is Susan Ford Collins, she is now known as America’s premier success and leadership coach. She wrote The Technology of Success and Our Children are Watching, and The Joy of Success. I was very fortunate because I wandered into one of her seminars at age 21. I learned the profundity of modeling and what is now called the Law of Attraction, at that age, which is many years ago.

I eventually became her apprentice. When I decided that this was a setting that I might be able to make a positive impact in, I decide to get a master’s degree in counseling to have a legitimacy of a degree behind me to support what I wanted to do. I have always wanted to make the world a better place, it was just a matter of what road to take to do that.

I was really fortunate to bump into her at such an early age, because, can you imagine what a different path could be revealed for everyone if they had the opportunity that I had at that age? Everything I learned from her eventually shaped my career path, my life, and we are very close to this day.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Say again? I missed her last name.

Hayley Foster: Her name is Susan Ford Collins. The program she created is called The Technology of Success.

Dr. Relly Nadler: That sounds really information. How long were you with her?

Hayley Foster: Well, it’s interesting because Susan seems to materialize whenever I have a point in my life that I’m in transition. So, it’s over the span of my life and if I met her at 21, and I’m now 55, that’s how long.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Wow. And she just kind of magically shows up at the right times.

Hayley Foster: It is the most amazing thing. It’s really interesting because she does a lot of book coaching, and I do speaker coaching, and the last conversation we had, without having discussed this ever, in all the years that we have known each other, we do the same thing for our different clients.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Hayley, tell us about your background and what prepared you for your current role.

Hayley Foster: Well, as you know, TEDx is not my brainchild and putting on the first large-scale TEDx event in history wasn’t my idea either. I have had a varied career and this is something that I taught my daughter, who is a senior in college, follow your interests and get really good at whatever that is, and see where that takes you. That’s what I did.

I started. I was interested in drama, and I did that for the first three years of college. Then I got really interested in politics because I decided that I really needed to make a difference and I got accepted to a really difficult program to get into in Political Communication, and it took me the rest of the semester to realize that wasn’t going to make any impact.

I went broader and got a degree in political theory which allowed me to live abroad and to travel. I thought that I might become an attorney only all of the friends I had who had gone to law school before me hated it. It didn’t seem that becoming any kind of an advocate was going to make the impact that I wanted to make.

I was living in London at the time, in the mid-80s, we didn’t have the internet. So the thing that had the most impact on popular opinion and the way people think was television. So, I thought, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to get a master’s in film and video production, and I am going to make some videos. It didn’t take me very long to have my own #metoo experiences, which were awful, and I said, forget this. I’ll make documentaries when I’m 40. I’m not doing this anymore.

That’s actually when I wandered into Susan’s seminar. Because it was personal development training, I realized that was a smaller venue where I could still have an impact. As I said, I earned a master’s degree so that I would have some credibility to be standing up there and speaker. That’s the background.

Listen to the complete interview above.


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