See It to Be It : Motivational Speaker (w/ Frank Kitchen)

Our host Amy C. Waninger chats with motivational and keynote speaker Frank Kitchen on this installment of the See It to Be It series.

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You can connect with Frank on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Interested in learning more about him? Check out his website.

TRANSCRIPT

Amy: Hey, everybody. It’s See It to Be It on Living Corporate, and this is Amy C. Waninger. I am kicking us off today, which is a little bit weird because usually it’s Zach’s voice that you hear first. Hey, Zach, how’s it going?

Zach: How you doing?

Amy: Did you have a great Thanksgiving?

Zach: You know what, it was restful, restorative, and it was quiet, ’cause, you know, it wasn’t as–you know, people weren’t in person this time. You know, we were virtual. We did, like, a little driveby thing and we waved, but we didn’t do too much.

Amy: You know what? That’s kind of nice as new parents to not have to do too much.

Zach: Oh, man, let me tell you. This is not a parenting podcast, or at least not a parenting podcast episode, but man, my wife and I need a break.

Amy: I hear ya. Yeah, that’s tough when you can’t get a break and there’s nobody to go to and you can’t get anybody in. I’m so sorry.

Zach: Oh, it’s okay. It’s okay. We’re here. We’re here. I’m excited. I’m excited about this episode of See It to Be It today. Talk to us about who we got and what’s going on.

Amy: Yeah, okay. So, you know, one of my things, right, one of my things that I tell people when I’m talking to them at conferences and, you know, corporate whatevers, right, where I go and talk and tell people what to do, one of the things I say is, you know, “Go to the meeting that’s not for you. Go to the conference that’s not for you. Show up at the thing that’s not for you,” right, because that’s how you meet people who don’t look like you is by going to those things, and I did that and I do it all the time, because I’ll just go anywhere, you know me, but I signed up for–I’m in the National Speakers Association of course, and I signed up for a program that was conducted by Black NSA, Black National Speakers Association. Even though, you know, I’m a white girl from Southern Indiana. And I was not the only white girl in this course. But it was really awesome, because it was, you know, a whole bunch of folks, a whole bunch of, you know, inspirational, motivational expert speakers from all across the country, and we were all talking about having an abundance mindset, and how do we prepare our minds for the success that we’re going to have? Because you’ll never outpace your mental model, right? So if you can’t believe it, if you can’t imagine it, you’ll never get there because you won’t take the steps in that direction. And oh, my gosh, I met dozens of people in this group that I’m looking forward to sharing with all of you very soon. But one of the people I met, one of the people in my little cohort of, you know, accountability partners, was Frank Kitchen, and what I love about Frank is even though you can’t see it, he does all of his interviews, all of his video interviews from his kitchen, and all his marketing stuff is about, you know, serving up what people like to eat and whatever. But Frank’s just–he’s a great guy. He’s super positive, but not in the way that makes you want to stab him, and he’s–like, he’s just a great human being, and I had a great time talking to him, so I’m looking forward to sharing this one with you.

Zach: Well, I’m looking forward to what you to cook up as well. Ah, Dad jokes.

Amy: But first, Dad, Dad Zach, but first, doesn’t Tristan have something for us this week?

Zach: We got to TAP In with Tristan for sure. Let’s go there. And then after that, we’ll get to Frank.

Amy: All right.

Tristan: What’s going on, Living Corporate? It’s Tristan, and I want to thank you for tapping back in with me as I provide some tips and advice for professionals. This week let’s talk about what you should always keep in mind when writing your resume. The key to writing an effective resume is to keep your audience in mind. There two audiences you’re creating this document for. The first is the applicant tracking system, and the second is recruiters and hiring managers. When it comes to applicant tracking system or ATS, we know that it scans your resume. We often talk about that in the context of having the right keywords, which is incredibly essential, but the first thing you need is a format that can be actually scanned by the ATS. If you use a format that isn’t ATS-optimized, it may kick you out before human eyes can ever see your resume. Here are a few things to keep in mind when formatting your resume for the ATS. Stick to a one-column format as many of them scan your document from left to right, so two columns can cause a bit of confusion. Ensure your contact information isn’t in the header of the document as some systems have issues scanning that area. Ensure you have defined headers so the system can pick up on them. You want to keep in mind a few other things when developing the document for recruiters and hiring managers. In addition to all of the formatting stuff we just talked about for the ATS, make your contact information easily accessible. Infuse a small pop of color throughout the document to help it stand out, but don’t go overboard. You want to use formatting to help guide the recruiter or hiring manager through your document while scanning, so ensure consistency in your text format. For example, if you bold one job title, you should bold them all. Also, keep your experience in a bullet format rather than a paragraph as it makes the content easier to digest. Beyond the formatting, when it comes to your resume’s content, think about the recruiter or hiring manager that may be reading it, not just what you want to include. When they’re reading your resume, they are trying to identify their potential return on investment in you, and you want to showcase that by focusing on things that are relevant to the role. If you include a summary, make sure it doesn’t sound too generic, like your resume could be coming from anyone who does this work. Try to rewrite some of your bullet points to move from task-based statements to accomplishment or value-based statements; this will help showcase your potential contributions if they brought you on to the team. When we write our resumes, we often write them solely from the perspective of what we want to highlight and how we want it to look. If you take a moment to step outside your perspective and revise your document based on what a recruiter or hiring manager wants to see, you’ll more than likely land more interviews. Thanks for tapping in with me this week. This tip was brought to you by Tristan of Layfield Resume Consulting. Check us out on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @LayfieldResume or connect with me, Tristan Layfield, on LinkedIn.

Amy: Frank, welcome to the show. How are you today?

Frank: I am doing fantastic, Amy, how are you doing?

Amy: I am doing well. I am so excited to have you on the show. I love having folks that I know personally that I’ve met in other contexts and don’t just know because we’re doing the show together, so it’s great to have you here, and we were talking a little bit before all of this, and I want you to share that in a minute… But you’re a keynote speaker.

Frank: Mm-hmm.

Amy: And you speak on mindset and how to prepare people for success, correct?

Frank: Yes.

Amy: How did you get to that place in your life where you’re like, “I am the expert on mindset and success, and I’m gonna go tell everybody about it”? Tell us about your journey.

Frank: Okay, well, I think the big one is I tell people–it’s almost like an open diary when I’m up on stage, but you spend a lot of time talking about your failures. So you’re this person talking about success, but you end up talking about your failures and how you made it through those failures. And so the short version of how I got into what I was doing was, for years I spent time as a trainer, and I, you know, worked in retail, and I trained people on how to, quote, maximize their potential and hit the sales goals, and I got recognized and got awards for it. And then eventually, I went back to my college that I graduated from, and I was part of, like, student leadership there, and I became an advisor. So now it’s my job to teach all these students how to transform their big dream, whether it be a diploma, starting an organization, making a change in the community, how to make that turn into reality. And towards the end of that process, one of my students came to me and goes, “Frank, you challenged us to live our dreams. What are you doing to live your dream?” And that was amazing. Yeah, they use my words on me. And I’m friends with, you know, many of these students and one student I’m talking about right now, and the big piece was they’d see me be a part of different associations and do talks and presentations and know I really enjoy training. And they go, “Well, what are you going to do?” ‘Cause they knew I was starting to moonlight on the side as a speaker. So I ended up leaving my college position to go start off as a professional speaker, but the crazy story is I did this in 2007, 2008, which isn’t the ideal time to start a business, and I understood the art of speaking but not the business of speaking. So essentially, I fell on my face, you know? I got speaking jobs, but I wasn’t consistent with it. So then I spent the next several years still getting speeches but working odds and ends jobs, because once you leave a really–you know, if it was a secure job to jump into business, a lot of people aren’t really willing to hire you. So I went from, like, stocking shelves and retail working at a zoo scooping up poop behind animals and working in respite care and working at an auction house, working for food service companies, and I kept getting fired or losing jobs. And so finally, five years ago, it was Father’s Day weekend, and the job I was working for called me in for a meeting. I thought I was going in for a promotion. I thought I was going in to, you know, get some extra responsibilities given to me, and they gave me my walking papers. And it’s Father’s Day weekend. My son is two years old. My wife is seven months pregnant. And to make it even worse, we’re going to her parents that weekend, so now I got to talk to my father in law. Okay, yeah, “Your youngest daughter who’s with me, you know, I have no job. She has no job. We have a kid on the way, and I got a big dream of being a speaker.” So that just–you know, that was tough. That was my awakening moment that weekend because I had arranged to speak at a showcase that weekend in their town, and my wife just goes, “Hey, why don’t you take my dad with you?” because he had never seen me speak before. So he came and–

Amy: No pressure, right?

Frank: No pressure. So yeah, so I’ve got my father in law, I’ve got my nephew, and they’re in the back of the room for the showcase, and the showcase is to get more speaking work. And the funny thing that happened was, at the end of it, we end up going back to my father in law’s house, brought a couple other speakers back with me, and we sit in the back and he’s–he’s a finger waver, so he just wagged his finger at me. He goes, “Hey, Frank, this is what you’re born to do. What can I do to support you?” And I just completely changed my mind, because I was fearful that whole weekend and between talking to him and reaching out to all my support group, going, “Well, hey, yeah, you’ve got this,” I realized, “You know what? I’ve been messing up over these years. I’ve only been talking about the dream. I hadn’t really been trying to live it.” I hadn’t asked for people’s support. I was kind of keeping it quiet, internal. And it was just a weird situation, and essentially, once I made that commitment, and I say–my last name is Kitchen, so, like, once I got hungry that weekend, and we worked together to put together a recipe, and my speaking has taken off, and I’ve been a full time speaker now for the last almost five years, and essentially everything that I did to get off the ground from that moment is what I teach audiences now.

Amy: That is amazing. That is amazing. It’s a great story. And I want to go back to what you said, you said you tried to start a business in 2008, 2009, [when] there was an economic recession, it was not the best time to look for a job or try to start a business. And we’re finding ourselves now in 2020 kind of in the same spot where somebody might be looking at this going, you know, “I would love to get out there,” and, you know, “I’d like to hang my shingle as a consultant,” or, you know, maybe “I just lost my job because I got furloughed at work, and I really want to try something new,” and I wanted to ask you, how is the speaking industry changing right now? How is this work changing in the middle of a pandemic? And I’d love it if you would tell the story you told me earlier about, you know, what it’s like to be a work from home keynote speaker.

Frank: Yeah. So the way it’s changing is I tell people you get to see who the real people are, who the fakers are. So back when we had the 2008, you know, economic crisis, I had friends who are in real estate in different businesses, and you found that people who just jumped in it for money and didn’t havea a real passion, and many of those people got weeded out. Same thing happened with speakers. All these people jumped in to speak, and they got weeded out. And I realized I wasn’t necessarily, you know, weeded out, I still had work coming in then, but it’s like it showed that the people were truly passionate about it, they kept going, but the people who weren’t get weeded out. So now as we’re going through, there are people like yourself, where it’s like, okay, you’re looking for opportunities or the options versus the other people like, “Oh, my God, the world’s over, I can’t do it, and I’m just going to end it all.” And that’s, you know, what’s happening now. So even earlier today, I was talking to a mentor and was talking about–her daughter loves board games and knows that people are stuck inside of houses. So seeing this as an opportunity is actually starting a board game company where people can order the games and have the games delivered to their homes, based off of answering questions as far as family games, you know, number of people, and they start a business. So that’s what’s happening here with the speaking. We have to get creative. So I’ve been on several phone calls today, and everyone’s gone “Hey, Frank, do you offer your programs virtually?” or “I’ve got some, you know, programs similar to you, where they’re self guided programs, where you can watch it on a tablet or your phone and go and do some [?].” The case of it now is it’s like a game, literally, you have to just reconfigure, readjust, or–once again because my theme is always on kitchen, it’s just too obvious, it’s “Okay, if you burn the meal, guess what, people are still hungry, so you have to figure out what to go and do.” So right now, guess what? With the way the economy and the world is going, that meal got burned, so I need to go back to the cupboard right now see what we have and still put something together. Because when people are hungry, they will still consume it. So right now, it’s just a case of “Okay, how are people consuming the knowledge that I provide?” and I have to adjust or pivot–that’s been a big word now, pivot–to, you know, what’s going on now.

Amy: I love hearing you say that. I had this exact conversation with someone this morning about what happened. I grew up in the information technology space in the early 2000s, and every time there was a bust, every time there was, you know, things would get really good for a few months, and then they’d get really bad for a few months and I would see people leave, and every time I saw somebody leave I thought “That’s an opportunity for me, because I can learn to do what they were doing, and when the next job comes up there’ll be one of us applying for it instead of two.”

Frank: And it’s a mindset that we take, you know, obviously talking about mindset, but I think about even back in high school, I got cut from the basketball team, but I hung around as the manager, and then I kept my grades, like, perfect. Like, you know, 3.5 whatever grade point average, and people are like, “Why are you working so hard? You can’t get on the team.” I was like, Well, guess what, halfway through the season, and it’s–you can say it’s a poor mindset I guess, but I go like, “Hey, you know what, halfway through the season as grades come up, someone’s going to be ineligible, so the first one up is going to be me ’cause I’ve hung around.” So as you said, looking for that, you know, opportunity, and with these opportunities–you were asking the question earlier, [and] guess what? We’re all working from home now. We’re doing our pieces right now. But our kids are involved, and our kids are watching us, and for me, I’ll probably be posting pictures up on social media. My kid had been photobombing, you know, Zoom calls and jumping in, and I was fearful for it for a while just, like, starting a business, but being transparent and showing “This is it,” people have actually enjoyed that more and go, “Oh, you’re teaching about mindset and positivity, how to incorporate everybody. It’s good to see your kids.” So like I shared with you before we jumped on, I did a virtual, you know, keynote last year of which now allows proof that I can do what I’m doing. They gave me a great testimonial. But the picture they used to advertise the keynote is me with my two kids over my shoulders, because my kids actually came and crashed, you know, the program, so they’re very much in part. This is a family-run business. My wife owns part of it. The kids have been to almost every conference. One kid knows how to jump up and do a mic check. The other one knows how to set the projectors. They’re part of this. So their norm is “Hey, we’re a part of it,” so to push them to the side is tough, even though I will say the office door is locked right now because they’d probably crash us. So the door’s locked, and I said, “Dad’s doing an interview.”

Amy: Oh, there you go. How old are your kids by the way?

Frank: I have a four-year-old daughter Olivia and I have a seven-year-old son, Elijah.

Amy: Oh, that’s awesome. So I have 17, 11 and 4 right now. And I get nervous about them coming in. You know, my daughter, four-year-olds are like–they don’t want to wear clothes ever, and I keep thinking like she’s going to come in and it’s going to be a catastrophe. But then I remember that, right, when this all started, Jimmy Fallon started doing The Tonight Show from his house, in his basement. He had his kids all crawling over him and they’re covered in spaghetti sauce and whatever. And like, you know what, if he can do it and he’s still getting advertisers, I can do it. It’s gonna be okay.

Frank: It can, and people–you know, when I talk on stage–because people are always shooting for perfection, and I share with people, like, “No, I want you to shoot for giving your best,” because we can always strive to be our best, but there is no perfect, you know, human on the planet. There’s never been a perfect human, so why do we shoot for something we don’t have? And to be honest, when people start to show perfection, whether it be the media or just the way our culture is, we try to pull those people down. So when we’re more transparent in showing who we are and just trying to be our best selves in which “Okay, you and I are parents. This is what we do,” then guess what? People are actually more drawn towards that, more attracted to that, because they’re like, “Hey, they’re just like me, so I can understand.” As you said, right now we’re going, “Okay, I’m gonna try to look good on camera,” but the kid’s over there, and my wife’s with the kid, she’s had them for the last six hours trying to do home schooling with them, and I’ve had to pause a podcast like, “Hey, can you pause for a second? I gotta go be a dad.” And when I come back, they’re all laughing going, “Hey, you know what, thanks for showing what being a entrepreneur truly is like.”

Amy: Absolutely, and being an entrepreneur during a global pandemic is different than it was six months ago, and in six months it’ll be different again because there’ll be some other other normal. So thank you so much for sharing that. I think one of the hallmarks of leadership and real leadership is being authentic, being transparent, letting people know, “Hey, look, it isn’t perfect,” right, and, you know, just kind of showing people, warts and all, you know, “Here’s what’s going on.” But, you know, if your message is positivity and moving forward, you know, people have to be able to connect with that, and you can’t connect with somebody who doesn’t have flaws, right? Because we all are hyper-aware of our own flaws.

Frank: It is. And I told people–you said, “Hey, how’d you get into this?” And I go, “You know what? Once that 2008-2009 happened and start to go through and struggling, trying to find a job that actually made me better as a speaker, because for the longest time, I tell people how to deal with, you know, difficult times how to work their way through struggles and through barriers, and I’ve never really gone through anything major like that. But then all of a sudden, I go on stage and say, “Hey, you know what, has anybody here had to ask the bill collector for a job?” And you want to talk about how many people connected afterwards? “Oh, my God, I’ve been in the same situation,” because the story was I was behind on my bills and I was having issues and I had to actually ask my wife to bail me out, you know, with stuff, and literally the bill collector called and said, “Hey, you know, you’re behind on your bills,” and I was like, “Yes, but, you know, I can’t,” and he was like, “Well, you should get a job.” I was like, “Are you hiring?” But that’s reality.

Amy: Yeah, that’s amazing, and I like that your story arc kind of encapsulates the, you know, “How do you get wisdom? You get wisdom from experience. How do you get experience? By making mistakes.” And, you know, it takes a lot of failed attempts up that mountain before you can tell somebody how to get there successfully. So I’m glad you’re out there sharing that.

Frank: That’s the big piece. It’s not to push the kids away, you know? If you do want the world to be better for them, you have to teach them. show them, [help them] understand what the speaking is about and what’s going on.

Amy: And how do you get through hard times, right? Because if kids think everything’s perfect–I’m a big believer in if kids think everything’s perfect all the time, then they hit a snag, they’re gonna think they’ve done something wrong, and as parents, if we can show them “Look, it’s not perfect, and I’m struggling,” and, you know, maybe I don’t give them the full backstory of the struggle, but they need to know that this is hard for me and I’m working through it. I’m gonna have good days. I’m gonna have bad days. You know, it makes us human to our kids too, and I think that’s important.

Frank: Yeah, and they see it and they’re gonna understand how to, you know, deal with difficult times because–you know, I love sharing with people, like, you know, people listen to our actions more than our words, so they’re watching us at all times to see, you know, what we do. And for me, it’s always funny to watch them if they get a microphone in front of them or computer technology. So, like, the other night, they’ve been in the office going, “I’m in the office,” and they’re trying to turn the light on here for the backdrop and get the printer going and have their own [?], because that’s what they see. So they’re trying to replicate what they see.

Amy: Yeah, my daughter will try to do her own podcast and her own webcast from my microphone, you know? She’ll put on the headphones, like, “And today we’re going to talk about blocks.” Okay, are you talking to the people? All right, talk to the people. No, no, I’m glad. I’m glad that we’re in this together right now. This is awesome. Frank, tell me, you know, in the speaking world we see a lot, especially in panels, I know there’s like this mantle watch app, right, where people will post or, you know, kind of track like, you know, if it’s all men on stage or if it’s all white folks on stage. And there seems to be a greater awareness now than there was a few years ago, correct me if I’m wrong, that the people on stage should reflect the people in the audience demographically. But it seems like we’ve still got a long way to go to get there, and what I wanted to ask you about is where do you go for community as a Black man in this industry, because, you know, we don’t see, on most stages, a whole lot of diversity,

Frank: It is difficult when you go up, because you want to see somebody similar to yourself. So as far as the connections–like, if you go to a party, and when you go to the party, the first thing you look around–I used to be a diversity director at a college, and I’d explain to people, like, how it works out when you first go to a party, you look around to see if there’s anybody you know or can relate with, and then you go to that group, and then you start to branch out from there. So when I start to go and speak or if I’m on social media or part of groups or a part of an association–you and I are both part of the National Speakers Association–I try to look for people who are, quote, similar to me, and it’s not even just a case of, you know, racially similar, but I try to look–you know, you and I are connecting right now as speakers who are family people, because they understand how to juggle the family life and business versus a single person or someone who’s gotten divorced. So generally what happens is–I tell people I don’t complain about, you know, what I don’t have. If I can’t find it, I gotta go create it myself. So when I get into this piece and going, “Okay, there’s not a lot of Black speakers,” I was like–I know there are some out there, and I run into them and we connect. We’ll have that conversation, go, “Hey, let’s help each other out,” and we’ve admitted to each other within, you know, this market it’s like, “Hey, there’s not a lot of us to support each other.” So we can complain about it not being there or we can put it together. So now I’ve got my own personal small network that I put together, and we can text each other, call each other, and we can talk openly and honestly because we’ve talked, you know–I won’t share anything here, but we go, “Hey, some of the conversations we’re having now, if they made it to the public, we may not actually get work again because we’re being so honest with each other,” but because we are in is very politically correct, you know, country or society, it’s like, “Oh, what do you mean by saying that?” And, you know, this one I can share, but I said, “Hey, one of my friends, when I first started out, we were two African-American males working on stage together. That was completely unique. So we would travel around, and we had to go to Montana and Wyoming… and guess what? There are not a lot of Black people in Montana and Wyoming. And literally, we walked into a Walmart and it felt like the whole Walmart stopped. Because we came in dressed up, we just finished doing a speech, and everything stopped. And we made a comment like, “Oh, my God, we stopped Walmart.” You know, that comment’s not anything bad, but we had a conversation like, “Wow, it’s like, what is it when you go to a place and you’re the only two Black people in the whole area? And people are looking at you?” And the comment is you’re not from around here. It’s not “Where are you from?” It’s like, “You’re not from around here.” I mean, that’s the first comment made, and it’s not made out of anything being rude or anything like that, but that’s just, you know, what happened, and there’s only certain people you can have that conversation with, to go down like, “Okay, how’d that make you feel?” And only certain people who will understand it. So luckily, I had Roger there. So we can always pull each other. He’s like a big brother to me. He’s another professional speaker. But at the same point, we started meeting other speakers of color or diversity or even–I connect really well to female speakers because you go through a lot of the similar pieces, and at some points worse than what I go through as a male because still, as a male, I still have certain advantages over what a woman has. But at the same point it was like, “Okay, well, what can we learn from each other?” So literally you have to put together your own network, you know, and whether it be you find an association to become a part of, you find a local networking group, or you build it yourself, you know, I can reach out to you and say, “Hey, do you know anybody you would connect with me, Amy?” You’d probably give me a couple names, and then I’d reach out. I mean, so those are just different ways to do it, whether you’re a speaker, any type of business, find people who’ve got a similar background interest, passion as you, and put together, you know, “You and I are going to mastermind together.” Call it a mastermind, call it a networking group, call it a support group, whatever you want to call it, go ahead, but put it together, that way you get somebody to bounce ideas off of and also just a shoulder to cry on, and they can offer you support when times are down.

Amy: Yeah, absolutely, because there are times when you want to say, “Okay, is it me? Or is it the whole world is really this way and I’m just one piece of seeing it?” But sometimes you really wonder like, “Okay, but is it me?” And unless you have somebody else who’s going “Well, if it’s you, it’s me too.”

Frank: Well, at this point, you need people to, you know, within your group to let you understand because as we’re talking right now, I can go petition for, you know, or submit a, you know, RFP or conference to go speak, and they’ll come back like, “Oh, you were great, but Frank, we decided to go with Amy.” And now I’m like, “Oh, man, they don’t like me. Her [?] must be better. What’s going on?” And then someone else will talk to me and it’s like, “Hey, Frank, have you looked at the last five years of their conference? They had male, male, male, male. This is a female-dominated organization. That’s why he came in. I’ve had groups like, “Hey, you know what, we haven’t had any female speakers lately. We’d like to have a female speaker. We found somebody who meets–” or they have a certain theme, so the theme may be, you know, blasting into the stars, they find somebody who has a NASA background, they’re going to match it. It’s nothing personally on me, it’s just a case of they sometimes have to find the perfect, as you said, mix or voice. You know, I’ve got conferences I’ve gone to where I’ve gone, “Hey, I’ve been to your conference before. I had a school district one time where–like, my wife went to your school district, and my sister in law works in the district, and I’ve been to your conference before.” And they go, “Well, we picked you over the other speakers because no one’s ever been to our conference, and you actually know the language because your family’s from here. So you know how to speak to our audience.” So there’s always little things that are going to, you know, put you ahead, and, like, even [when] I got my diversity job they go, “Hey, you know what, you’re the only African-American candidate who’s applied for the job. That’s one of the things that got you further up the list. You still have to pass the interview process.” But that was one of the deals because they’re going “Okay, we’ve got a diversity position. How can we have a diversity position but not have any diversity in the application pool?”

Amy: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I wanted to touch on something that you were talking about, because, you know, a lot of times we don’t know why we get picked for jobs or why we don’t or they choose someone else, or, you know, maybe they, you know, they really wanted us, but then they decided, “Oh, we’re gonna pick a whole different theme for this event.” There’s a lot that goes into this business that you have no control over. And so what I wanted to ask you, though, about that is, you know, somebody who’s listening right now, who says, “Oh, man, I love being on stage. So here’s my thing. I can’t act and I can’t sing. But man, I love to be up in front of people. And if I can’t act, and I can’t sing, the only way I’m ever going to be able to do that is speaking. Okay, so like, that’s just it for me. And every time I would see somebody on stage, I’m like, I want to go do that.” And so if you were talking to somebody, talking to a younger Frank Kitchen who’s, like, looking at you going, “Man, I want to go do that,” how can somebody get started?

Frank: Okay. Well, to get started, the biggest mistake I made early on was I didn’t talk to–what we talked about earlier, build a network–I didn’t talk to my network. It’s funny, you know, you and I probably grew up in that generation of Tupperware, Kirby vacuum cleaners, Ginsu steak knives…

Amy: Encyclopedias because we’re old.

Frank: Yeah, encyclopedias, but when you go to all those multi-level marketing groups, like, sales, the first thing they say is “Talk to your family and friends,” but for many of us, as business owners, we try to go find people who don’t know us, of which, you know, that’s a big barrier to entry. So for me, as a younger Frank, I had to go back and–even the people I coach and teach now is I go, “Hey, go for the low-hanging fruit. Who are the people you know? What are the networks or associations you’re a part of?” Because those people already love you and trust you and those people can refer you. So I’ve gotten so many referrals for work based off of someone’s, like, stuck their neck out for me because, like, “Oh, I know Frank, I know what he’s about. I know that he’s got a proven. I know that he’s quality.” Boom, and I’ve gotten phone calls, okay? It’s like, “We’d like you to come in and speak and present,” and I had no videos, no deal, but it’s because of a recommendation from somebody. So that’s the big one is, like, anybody who wants to be able to jump on the stage, anybody I coach right now I say, “Hey, I want you to write a letter, shoot a video, put a PowerPoint together.” I don’t know, whatever works best for you. You can send it out to everybody in your network saying, “Hey, I am looking to launch a professional speaking–” not a speaking career, because speakers don’t get paid–“professional speaking career. I would appreciate your assistance or your help. Here’s what I speak on.” “When you see an opportunity–” not if, when–“When you see an opportunity, please send it my way.” And that’s all they gotta go do. I’m like, “How long does it take to go do that? Text message,” and they’re amazed how many people will write back like, “Oh, my God, we need something. We need you.” So that’s the early advice I give to anybody who wants to get into this is just you have to announce yourself as a professional speaker, and then two is you need to let your network and the people around you know, and if your network is Facebook or social media, then guess what? I’m on the podcast with you right now. I could take a picture, put this on Facebook, “I’m talking to Amy today about launching my professional speaking career. Someone’s going to write up and be like, “You’re going to be a professional speaker?” I mean, whether you’re writing a book, you’re starting a class, somebody will always write up and go like, “Oh, you’re starting about that. Tell me more.” And even if one person listens to you, that’s great.

Amy: That’s absolutely true. And I’m sure you know I’m a big proponent of building one’s network, right? That’s my first book was about. It’s all about networking beyond bias, networking across differences. And it’s interesting that you say that, because a lot of us do what you did, which is, well, “I want to do this, but I don’t really want to tell people because it’s a little scary to put it out there and, you know, people might judge me or whatever,” and I remember two things happened when I started talking about what I wanted to do. The first was my dad, whom I love dearly and who wants the best for me, said, “Yeah, we had somebody come and speak at our company once and it was a disaster.” That was his whole advice on me doing this kind of work was, “We had that happen once and it was a disaster.” Like… “Okay, but you’re not really my target audience.” And that’s a different thing, but the other thing that happened was someone that I went to high school with was actually on the board for the Society of Association Executives in our state, and she was connected with all sorts of other people who run conferences, right? Because all these associations have conferences. And she’s like, “Yeah, I’ll help you, what do you need?” And she got me, you know, one of my early paid gigs, and she introduced me to some other people, and it was great, but I never would have known that that was what she did if I hadn’t taken the step of making myself vulnerable and saying, “Hey, guys, I want to do this, and I don’t know how to start. I need some help.”

Frank: Yeah, and this, all we have to do is be able to ask for help. You know, I tell people to always seek knowledge. But as you said, I’ve gotten some into associations and groups that I’d never thought I’d be in, like, because someone has made a referral and be like, “Oh, Frank, you know what, he can connect with people, he can go do this.” And, like, I think, “I’ve never talked to that group or area before,” and you go in, and all of a sudden, boom, it’s like, “Oh, well, you got to have him come in over here,” and like, “Okay, I’m talking to firefighters, I’m talking to, like, librarians, I’m talking to, you know, the payroll people, you know, for the state.” But the case is if your message really resonates with the groups that you’re working towards or which–like I said for me, me, you shared it earlier is, I’m just talking to people, like, how to maximize your potential and how to transform that personal professional dream to reality. That goes across so many, you know, areas, and then I get more targeted, like, “Oh, I work with professional associations,” so then it comes in there so I know exactly what I’m looking for. And as you said, your dad, you go, “Hey, you know, that’s not my ideal thing,” then you know what to say yes to and what to say no to also because everybody can’t be your customer.

Amy: That’s exactly true. And so Frank, who is your ideal customer? Because they might be listening right now, and I want them to know that they need to call you.

Frank: Okay, well, let’s go into the whole pitch piece. My name is Frank Kitchen. I am the owner of Frank Kitchen Enterprises. I work with professional associations that want their members to maximize their potential and create or produce the tasty results that everybody desires. So that’s my little, you know, spiel there to put some kitchen spin into it, but essentially it’s the case of there’s professional associations that are, you know, around the country. All of them tend to have either some type of regional national state conference, and they tend to want a keynote speaker to open or close it. And for me, when you talk about maximizing potential, a lot of time it’s leadership. So I come to a lot of conferences, I speak on personal leadership, team leadership, and communication, and I get invited to those groups. So that’s my ideal client is professional associations and their members of which–if I happen to go to a professional association right now for, you know, court employees, I might go talk to that association for the court employees, but then at some point, those individual cities or towns would say, “Hey, will you come and talk with our personal group?” and then it goes off from there. So that’s why I say professional associations and their members, because the members could be a corporate group, a nonprofit group, you know, smaller areas, so it branches off from there. So I kind of go big with getting all the people into one spot so I can make a lot of phone calls and emails and then branch off to there to work with all their members.

Amy: That is awesome. And where can people find you if they want to learn more about your work or how you got started?

Frank: Well, I invite people to come to my website, it’s FrankKitchen.com. So I always laugh because people don’t know how to spell the word kitchen. So it’s Frank, F-R-A-N-K, and then another K, K-I-T-C-H-E-N dot com. There’s not many of me out there, so if you do the website or on social media, just search for Frank Kitchen and you will find me. If you happen to see a picture of Michelle Rodriguez with a beard on, there’s some movie made years ago about a hitman and Michelle Rodriguez is the starring character and she’s got this beard and stuff like that. I haven’t seen the movie. If you see that one, that’s not me. So Frank Kitchen, the guy with the shiny bald head, not Michelle Rodriguez.

Amy: Fair enough. Frank, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to our audience today. I always enjoy our conversations. I love masterminding with you. I think it’s such a blessing to have found a group that we’re both a part of with Black NSA, and I do want to give a shout out real quick to Black NSA. There’s a [?] National Speakers Association, where we’re both a member. There are affinity groups, and so there’s an NSA for Gen X and Gen Y, there’s NSA for the LGBTQ community, there are power women of NSA, and there’s Black NSA, and what I love about all of these affinity groups is that you don’t have to identify with them to be a part of them. And I have felt so welcomed and so supported in Black NSA since I joined and started getting more involved, but just the quality of conversation and the depth of the conversation that happens in that group is truly outstanding. And I want to thank you, just on a personal note, for being a part of that, for making me feel so welcome there.

Frank: Yeah, I mean, I enjoyed it. I always enjoy your feedback. You reached out to me, like, you know, day one. We saw each other and, you know, we got a chance now to talk. But, you know, my wife, for people who are listening like, “Oh, Black NSA. Can I be a part?” And like you said, you don’t have to identify as anything, but the first time I ever went to a Black NSA meeting was, you know, one of their conferences years ago, and then my wife started to see, you know, the zoom with all the different pieces on there, you know, she comes from a Hispanic background, but when she saw the pictures, she said, “I thought you said it was Black NSA.” She’s like, “I don’t see all Black faces on the screen.” And I go, “Well, that’s the beauty of it.” It’s like, “That’s the group. We organize it and bring it together.” But the idea is, like, let’s get the best resources to help everybody. So once again, it’s like you said, you don’t have to be tied into that one group. That’s just the name in the title, but the ultimate mission we set about building this network is, with that mission, that one is like, “Hey, we’re gonna go ahead and help everybody grow their speaking career.” So everybody listening here to your podcast or watching, that’s the case. Find a group that’s gonna invest in you to help you grow.

Amy: And invest back, because if you show up empty-handed, right–it’s like how your mom taught you to not go to your friend’s house empty-handed, right? You show up for dinner, you take something, you take bread or you take wine, you take something, and I feel like that’s the case, too, with these groups is, you know, when you show up, have something to offer, or, you know, at the very least just absorb as much as you can, and then just start to reflect back, because it makes such a difference in how you received. And I always tell folks who are not members of underrepresented groups in their professions, “Go to the group that’s not for you. Sit in the back and listen.” And if somebody says, “Hey, what are you doing here?” Just say, “Hey, I’m here to listen and learn,” and that’s all you have to say. The less you say the better. And you will be amazed what you’ll learn, what you’ll take away and the relationships you’ll build with that. So I just want to thank you for letting me live my values, but also for just making me feel so incredibly welcome there.

Frank: You’re more than welcome. Thank you so much.

Amy: Thank you, Frank. And I hope folks will find you through this episode. I’m looking forward to collaborating with you on things in the future. Thanks so much.

Frank: We will be doing that. Thank you so much.

Zach: Amy, that was a dope conversation.

Amy:
Yeah, isn’t he great?

Zach:
He is great. Let me ask you something. If there was, like, one thing you would hope that listeners took away from that discussion, what would it be?

Amy: So here’s what I loved about Frank, right? He’s, like, not having the best time in his life, and he says, “You know what I’m gonna do? I’m gonna go be a motivational speaker.” And you would think, right, that that would probably not be your next step if you’re kind of, you know, bottoming out, right, in your current career. But what I love about him is he had this vision for what he wanted to do, he knew he was going to be good at it, he knew it was exactly where he needed to be, and even though, like, not everybody believed in him, right, he showed them that this is who he was, this is who he was born to be, and they got on board pretty quick. And, you know, he is a perfect testament to this notion that you can only pack away who you are for so long before you have to bring yourself out into the world, and I just love that he’s out here doing what he does well, that he is having the kind of impact, you know, on his audiences that he’s having. And you know, frankly, that he was willing to share his story with us.

Zach: Listen, I appreciate it. I’m always inspired by folks who can see the positive, and to your point–and not, like, in this cheesy way, but, like, really push to, like, activate purpose. That’s a big deal, and it’s really lost, frankly, like, in our generation of kind of, like, instantaneous success. We kind of want everything to happen, like, very fast or instantaneously, and there’s something to be said about, like, having a vision, having a mental model where you can envision yourself doing well and then, like, making steps to actualize that vision. That’s all, like, really, really, really, really, really good stuff.

Amy: Yeah. And I think it’s important to realize sometimes we’re failing because we’re in the wrong spot, not because we’re in the wrong person.

Zach: That’s a bar. I see, I see. You’re dropping knowledge. Mm-hmm. In the wrong spot, not in the wrong person.

Amy: Mm-hmm.

Zach: Hey, yo, that’s–Amy, you know, you surprise me from time to time. Really, like, every now and then–’cause I’m, like, an adult person, every now and then you kind of show me a little something. I’m like, “What is that?” That’s fire. Did you just make that up off the top of the dome?

Amy: Yeah.

Zach: That’s fire.

Amy: You should see me on stage. I go for it. It’s great.

Zach: Well, your pictures let me know that you’re killing it.

Amy: I’m killing it. I’m killing it out here.

Zach: Yeah, for sure. So, Amy, like, we talk about this every week, but, like, how can folks support Living Corporate?

Amy: You know, it’s important. If you like the show, you need to support it, you need to let us know you’re out there. And more importantly, you need to let the platforms that we’re on know that you’re listening, because the more you show us the love on their platform, the more they’re going to promote our shows. So what you need to do is you need to go to whatever app you’re streaming this or downloading it or you know, beaming it into your brain and give us a five star rating and leave a review. Just a couple words is great. Leave a review. Tell us what a great job we’re doing, or tell us who you’d like to see on the show. Even that would be great. And, you know, the more you engage on the platform, the better supported, the better able we are to bring you this content every week.

Zach: I mean, you heard it. You heard what Amy said. You know, I didn’t have to say it. Amy said it. I agree.

Amy: The share button works too, doesn’t it, Zach? You can share this thing on anywhere. What are all the places that the kids are sharing things these days, Zach?

Zach: I don’t know. The TikToks, the Snapchats. Right? The Xangas.

Amy: Yeah, I quit at Twitter. Twitter’s, like, the last thing I’m gonna do.

Zach: Yeah, man. You know, it’s a lot of content out here, and then everything looks like everything else. LinkedIn looks like Twitter looks like Instagram. I don’t know. It’s just a lot going on with these stories and fleets and sleets.

Amy: I thought fleet was a new slang. I didn’t know what it was. I had to look it up. I’m old.

Zach: Fleek is an older slang, and then–

Amy: So we used to be on fleek, and now we’re on fleet?

Zach: And now you’re fleeting.

Amy: Oh. I think that will be fleeting, I have to tell you.

Zach: You think so?

Amy: I’m just not impressed with the whole Stories kind of vibe.

Zach: But here’s the thing. If the Black people do it, it’ll stay.

Amy: Well, that’s true. Okay, so we got a platform. We’re talking to Black folks. I’m going to ask all of you to stop doing new things ’cause I can’t keep up.

Zach: [laughs] You’re gonna call on them to stop doing new things?!

Amy: Stop doing new things. Like, go revive something. Go back to, like, MySpace or something, something I understand.

Zach: That’s the funniest thing.

Amy:
Stop making new things cool, Black people.

Zach: That’s so funny. Wow, that’s great. That’s really funny. But it’s true. I mean, we’re the trendsetters. Literally we just make everything dope. And you’re right. I mean, we’ll just have to see, but when you when you talk about tech adoption–what did Dwight say on The Office? He was like, “We got to get the Black people to do it, and then the white people to do it, and then get the Black people to stop doing it.” [both laugh] It was the episode–

Amy: That’s kind of how it goes, and I think that that’s why all platforms get abandoned. Right? Because like, you know, they get started and then, you know, all my people come on and ruin it and y’all go somewhere else.

Zach: It’s facts. It’s true. That’s the pattern.

Amy: Sorry about that. Sorry about ruining all the good stuff.

Zach: It’s true. It’s true. We’ll be like, “This is fire,” then out of nowhere here comes somebody trying to take our thing and they use it wrong. And we’re like, “Aw, all right, on to the next thing,” and we just leave. It’s like the opposite of white flight.

Amy: It’s reverse colonization.

Zach: “Okay, that’s fine. Y’all can have it. Go ahead and have a blast. Goodbye.” Man, we stumbled into that. That was very funny. That was fun. Okay, catch y’all next time, y’all.

Amy: Have a good one.

Zach: Peace.

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