I'm often asked by other motivational speakers, and even those in the audience at one of my talks, how I became a youth motivational speakers for primary schools, high schools, guest speaker for corporate events, and reducing stress workshop facilitator.
I mean, my past wouldn't suggest I'd be standing in front of a room full of teachers and helping them reduce their stress and anxiety.
10 years ago I would've laughed uncontrollably if you suggested I'd be one of the most sought after youth motivational speakers for schools and groups.
Being a socially awkward young man all those years ago, the thought of standing in front of the heads of NRL, and was guest speaker at their event, where even the current CEO was in attendance, just the thought of that would've electrified my body with nerves.
It's been a cool journey being on the motivational speakers circuit these last few years.
So how did it all get to this point?
Where some weeks on tour I've done 16 talks in 4 days! Where most weeks I'm traveling the country as guest motivational speakers for schools, corporate events, and even prisons?
Did I want this?
Not really to be honest.
Because it was so far from what I thought I could achieve. I mean, I'd get awkward speaking to one person, so there's no way I thought I could hold my own up on a stage. I had never spoken in public! I mean, admittedly I held group classes at the gym, but even when starting that, the night before I couldn't sleep. I just kept doing it though and eventually I was comfortable. Could it be the same for anything else? Of course!
So how did I start speaking?
My book, Stabbed Ego - A Thug's Journey to Enlightenment, was released in late 2014, and a local school teacher from Hurstville Boys had read it. She emailed me and asked if I could come out and speak to their yr 10's because they were having a few issues that she believed my story and messaging could help out with. I read the email and responded, telling her I'd love to (never one to say I can't do anything), and asked how much time I had. I still didn't think it would happen, I had the idea that I was going to find an excuse and email her to pull out.
That email received, I had no idea that from here, I would soon be one of Australia'a most south after youth motivational speakers for schools, speaker for primary schools, corporate events speakers, reducing stress facilitator for teachers, and regularly hold parent evenings.
She responded by saying I had a few weeks. During those few weeks I was absolutely terrified as I imagined me staring in front of a bunch of students and me stuffing up my words or going blank. I spoke with people close to me and was looking for them to but into my excuse that I've never spoken before, or had any training, and a few weeks is nowhere near enough time. The people close to me, my wife at the time, Jade, didn't buy into my bullshit. Telling me that I've already helped so many people, now it's time to take the next step.
I didn't know what I was doing. I had never structured a talk before, I had no idea about presentation slides, but all of this was just rubbish excuses I was trying to use so I could stay comfortable.
I didn't want just another bad guy gone good story, because there's 1000's of those. I wanted to get deep, but use my cool stories as an opening and connection.
I looked at why so many people liked my book, and also what helped me change my life around.
People liked my book because of the deepness and exciting stories, but it was changing people's lives because of the explanation of my mindset struggles, and opening their eyes to ego - to the false self. I help people become aware of the labels that they've found themselves struggling to live up to. Becoming aware of this is the first step towards taking that ego mask off and getting back to your true self - where all happiness, peace, success, and love comes from.
So that's what I wanted out of my talk.
How was I going to deliver?
How would I start?
What do I do?
Will they intro me?
Do I allow questions?
What if my slides don't work?
Who online can I copy?
How do I finish my talk?
What if they don't like it?
Will I need a microphone?
What if my stories are too heavy for the students?
What if they don't believe me?
Do I charge them for my talk?
How much should I charge them?
Being a socially awkward person back then, the idea of talking about money, or asking for cash, absolutely suffocated me. So, to get rid of that feeling, I told them I'd do it for free.
After typing in google, "How to become a motivational speaker", "tips for motivational speakers", "what if I go blank on stage?", How much does a motivational speaker charge?", and any other advice from experts, I was a little confused. Some said don't practice your talk word for word, others said for your first, to practice daily!
I erred on the side of caution, and practiced twice a day
I had one person occasionally in the audience, Jade, and sometimes my dog, who was great at giving feedback. Being a motivational speakers for schools, and corporate events speakers, I've had some extremely attentive people in the audience, my dog, Ruby, wasn't one of those extremely attentive ones.
I decided to open my talk with something capturing (that's what Google told me to do). I open with...
"I'm here this morning to take you all on a little journey, I'm going to show you how I got from where you guys are now, in high school, and I'll show you how a couple of choices I made throughout high school resulted in me becoming this guy..."
I then show a photo of myself over 10 years ago where I look nothing like the person I am today. In the photo, I'm huge!
"So that's me, about 10 years ago. I weighed over 120 kilos and I was the leader of a street fighting and graffiti crew, I was stabbed twice, addicted to drugs and alcohol, I made my money through stealing and robbing drug dealers, but scarier than all of that is I came extremely close to killing somebody."
Boom!!! Attention straight away.
"Look, on the outside to my friends and family, I looked strong and confident, even a little happy (I point to photo where I'm smiling)... I pretended I was. But on the inside when I was alone, at home in bedroom, when my thoughts would come to haunt me, I was absolutely terrified.
I was depressed, anxious, and hated myself. In social situations, I was also incredibly awkward. If I had to speak to somebody I didn't know, I'd sweat and stutter and not look at them in their eyes, and if I was going to a party, id go to the toilet heaps just to get away from everybody. Like I said, on the outside, id pretend I was strong and confident, but on the inside it couldn't have been further from the truth... I hated myself.
So I'm going to show you how I got from just being a normal happy kid with a reasonably good upbringing, I'll then show you the choices I made turned my into this guy (pointing to photo), finally though I'm going to show you how I turned it all around to become one of the happiest people of all time (This gets laughs).
You guys ready for this?"
And off we go!
My talk goes for about 70 mins but I can manipulate it to fit into any time frame.
Being asked to be guest youth speakers for schools for the first time was incredibly scary and uncomfortable. Even up to the day of the talk, I still didn't really believe it was going to happen. Each time I revived an email or call, I hoped it was the school canceling. They didn't though.
Next thing I know, I've arrived at Hurstville boys high, and confidently (pretended I was) walked through the school gates and asked for the front office. Rehearsing my intro to the office lady on the way, I pushed open the door and was met with a smile by the office lady.
"Hi, I'm Luke and im guest speaker for year 10 today"
In my head I'm 1000000 miles an hour!! I just introduced myself as a motivational speaker!
One of the students came to get me, and we walked up to the library.
"What are you speaking about?" He asked on the way.
This question I hadn't rehearsed.
"Ummm... you're just going to have to wait and see." I side stepped that one.
I walk into the library to this....
Next thing I know, I'm introduced, and for the next 70 mins I delivered the first talk of my life. Eager eyes followed me, teachers nodded their heads, and inside my head I was smiling, knowing I was delivering.
At the end, I was met with a huge applause and my body tingled in appreciation. Here we go, I thought.
Afterwards I sat with teachers and they said I was the best speaker they've had, and then asked how long I'd been doing it for. I proudly told them it was my first talk. It took some convincing, but eventually they believed me.
After the talk, I went to a local cafe to just totally feel the moment. Often we achieve our goals and jump straight into what's next. I wanted to feel the gratitude for what I just achieved, and while doing this I was receiving messages like...
"Brother, it was like yo were speaking to just me today. I've had some tough times lately but can feel that today it's going to change. I know I can do whatever I want, all I have to do is believe it and work for it. I've used so many excuses before, I'm going to stop that now. I don't care what people think. I used to, but not anymore. You're the best speaker the school has had. Thank you bro."
From there, it was pretty slow to take off. I still had a business to run that was taking every second of every day to run. I signed with a motivational speakers agency, and throughout the years they've gotten me a few gigs here and there. Majority of my talks come from word of mouth, and my social media accounts.
The Stabbed Ego Project Podcast
I regularly post photos of the messages I receive from students, parents, teachers, and CEO's of companies, and this proves to event organisers that I make a huge impact.
From my first talk, until l now, I have many versions of my talk, after being aware of what works and what doesn't, I've changed and improved things, manipulated to suit audiences, and PG'D stories and content for primary students.
Being a guest speakers for primary schools for the first time was like I had just started my speaker career all over again. It got me right out of my comfort zone. I have some heavy stories, and wasn't sure my content was suitable, and would deliver. It does though! Big time. And now, after word spreading, I speak at more primary schools than high schools.
Life is cool x
Guest Speakers for schools, youth speakers for primary schools, and corporate events speakers, Luke S. Kennedy, after humbling beginnings, is now one of Australia's most south after motivational speakers. He is also the best selling author of Stabbed Ego - A Thug's Journey to Enlightenment.