Today I had on Samara Bay, a successful speaker, sought-after speech coach, and author of the book, Permission to Speak.
Samara is a highly accomplished woman, her journey to become a speech coach is fascinating having once lost her voice for months without speaking. She is now a coach to many public figures, candidates for U.S. congress, and many people in Hollywood. She’s been hired by everyone from Marvel to Netflix to help movie stars integrate good acting with good accents. Some of her clients include Gal Gadot, Pierce Brosnan, Penelope Cruz, Ricky Martin and the list goes on.
Her work on rethinking the sound of power has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, Forbes, CBS Sunday Morning, Tamron Hall, Slate, and many more.
We spoke a lot about the concept of changing the sound of power, how our voices and the way we speak affect the way we are treated. Our voice stories vs our personal stories. How giving authentic power to our voices with a focus on those of women and minorities is helping shift power within companies and how that affects business as a whole.
The thing is, you don’t have to be a public speaker or CEO to see the immense value that bringing power to your voice can have.
This is just as powerful to a parent of a teenager as it is to someone speaking to an audience of ten thousand.
If you like the show, please share it with a homie, tag me on social and definitely subscribe. It truly means a lot to me.
Enjoy the show!
LISTEN to this pod right here by clicking play or choose your favorite listening platform below. You can also WATCH the video podcast below that! Check out the show notes at the bottom to get more details about the contents of this episode. Enjoy!
Show notes as a general guide below. Somewhat in order and not written in perfect grammar because we want you to actually listen to the show!
- Samara’s last oh shit moment
- Why voice?
- Samara tells us about the correlation between how we sound and how we’re treated
- Samara talks about her book, Permission to Speak
- Can our voice change our mindset?
- Samara’s advice on how to be your authentic self
- Seb and Samara talk about how our voice story is different from our personal story
- Samara talks about how business can improve if women and minorities have a powerful voice
- The significance of a good speaker and communicator
- The most outlandish thing Samara has heard from speech coaches
- Samara shares 2 things that can help anybody become a powerful speaker
- Samara shares her top two traits that a conscious leader must embody today.
Check out Samara Bay
Connect with Samara
Connect with Sebastian on Instagram
Below is a transcript of the video podcast created by Seb’s Robot buddy, Zekton. He tends to make mistakes so please forgive him if you find errors or some funky sounding sentences. For the real deal, watch the video or click on your favorite audio Podcast platform above! Enjoy!
Sebastian Naum (00:06):
What’s up guys? Today I had on Samara Bay, a successful speaker sought after speech coach and author of the book, permission to Speak Samara As a highly accomplished woman. Her journey to become a speech coach is fascinating. Having once lost her voice for months without speaking, she is now a coach to many public figures, candidates for US, Congress, and many more people in Hollywood. She’s been hired by everyone from Marvel to Netflix to help movie stars integrate good acting with good accents. Some of her clients include Gal Gadot, Pierce Brosnan, topi Cruz, Ricky Martin, and the list goes on for work. On rethinking The Sound of Power has been featured in the New York Times magazine, Forbes, cbs, b s, Sunday Morning, Tamron Hall Slate, and many more. We spoke a lot about the constant of changing the sound of power, how our voices and the way we speak, affect the way we are treated, our voice stories versus our personal stories.
Sebastian Naum (01:01):
How giving authentic power to our voices with a focus on those of women and minorities is helping shift power within companies and how that affects business as a whole. The thing is, you don’t have to be a public speaker or CEO to see the immense value that bringing power to your voice can have. This is just as powerful to a parent of a teenager as it is to someone speaking to an audience of 10,000. I love this episode, guys. If you like the show, please share it with a homie. Tag me on social and definitely subscribe and means the world to me. Enjoy the show. Samara, welcome to the show.
Samara Bay (01:35):
Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Sebastian Naum (01:38):
Yeah, so the first thing is like, congrats on your book launch. That is a big deal. You just did that. It’s so much work. I can only imagine. So big, big shout out to you.
Samara Bay (01:47):
Thank you. Thank you. Yeah. You know, I have to say writing a book is very lonely, and then launching it is the opposite. And I’ve interacted. I mean, I have this cold, but like it, I might have just gotten it from literally any of the hundreds of people I interacted with them the last week.
Sebastian Naum (02:03):
Yeah, yeah. Well, so my, my first question that I always ask is, what is your last oh moment? What is the first thing that comes to mind? And I’m sure you got a bunch of those, so it’s gonna be easy. I feel like, especially with this whole book launch,
Samara Bay (02:14):
Wait, define, oh, is that gay or is that boo?
Sebastian Naum (02:18):
Whatever you wanna define it. It could be awesome. It could be really bad. It could be in between, but whatever was your like comes to mind.
Samara Bay (02:23):
I’ll tell you, yesterday I ran a workshop, a private workshop. I’ve been doing a lot of like public things and then also private ones for cool different organizations. And three people in the chat said that they finished my book and started it again.
Sebastian Naum (02:39):
Samara Bay (02:40):
We’re one week after lunch. And I, my mind was blown, like, yeah, that’s kind of greater than any, any feedback I could have expected.
Sebastian Naum (02:52):
Yeah, you’re like, or unless you couldn’t understand it at all, so you had to read it. Now I’m
Samara Bay (02:56):
Kidding. Totally, totally. However, I’m confident enough at this point because honestly, I’ve been getting a huge amount of positive feedback. That’s amazing. So I know, I know. It’s so lovely. Like people are just saying it’s cracking them open. I had, um, a woman, I’m, I’m dear friends with who does d e I work, who, uh, went to my event on Saturday and said that I said things, my, the woman who was interviewing me and I said things that she has not heard in 25 years of equity and justice work.
Sebastian Naum (03:23):
Samara Bay (03:24):
Sebastian Naum (03:25):
That’s amazing. This
Samara Bay (03:27):
Kind of feedback is meaningful. It’s very o.
Sebastian Naum (03:30):
Yeah. Already getting ripples, you know, of, of effect. That’s amazing. Thank you. That’s amazing. That’s so cool. Yeah. Congrats. That’s, that’s a great, that’s a great. People are reading my book again as soon as they finish it right off the bat. Awesome.
Samara Bay (03:43):
Sebastian Naum (03:44):
<laugh>, when when I launch a book, Samara, which is gonna happen, uh, soon and later, I, I don’t I’ve ever said that out loud. See, look. Oh my
Samara Bay (03:54):
God, you guys, are you all hearing this with me? This is good. This is good. We’re here for you.
Sebastian Naum (03:59):
That’s great. Only a few people know that I’m writing, but that, that is funny. I’ve never really said that. Uh, look at that. Um, I’m just getting, okay.
Samara Bay (04:06):
I tend to, I just give people permission to speak wherever they are. So, you know, <laugh>
Sebastian Naum (04:11):
Just like it’s squeezy, you know, the theme is, is so Aw. Dead on. I love it. Uh, Samara, why voice? Why this? Where did this passion come from?
Samara Bay (04:20):
It’s so interesting. I mean, I really had to dig down into that in, when I was writing this book, because here’s the secret. I don’t actually care about anyone’s voice. I mean, that sounds ridiculous to say, but I don’t, I get a lot of people saying, you know, oh, you must be judging the sound of my voice. Hmm. No. And in fact, I made it very clear to my publisher that they were not allowed to give me a book cover that had sound waves on it. Right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, this is just not about the science of audio.
Sebastian Naum (04:49):
Samara Bay (04:50):
But I am very deeply interested in everybody’s relationship to their own voice. Hmm. Which tends to be quite fraught and actually a lifelong story of myths, of drama, of comments, offhanded comments that had outsized impact. And if I’m totally honest, I think this started, I’m branding myself as a theater nerd and I’m just owning it. When I was seven, I saw my Fair Lady this musical about basically a low class quote unquote flower girl who has a low class accent in England, Cockney accent. And this fancy guy who takes her on as a social experiment to teach her a new accent and see if her life opens up. And the answer is yes. And I of course, at seven wouldn’t have described it that way, but I was learning something about the connection between how we talk and how we get treated.
Sebastian Naum (05:48):
Samara Bay (05:50):
That I think, stayed with me. And I went through a whole theater acting career, and then came out the other side as a, a dialect coach, coaching actors on accents on the minutiae of sounds and how a tiny sound, one direction or another will affect where we think someone’s from, how educated we think someone is, how much they deserve to, to be in a power position. And then, you know, during the 2018 midterms, I got recruited to coach women who were running for office for the first time, and it was pro bonos through moveon.org. I had no idea if I would be able to apply what I do over in Hollywood here in politics. And the answer was yes, because these are bigger questions than vowels and consonants. Right? Yeah. These are questions for all of us about how we show up in the moments that matter, what version of ourself we bring forward, how we hide vocally and don’t.
Sebastian Naum (06:42):
Yeah. Yeah. I had, I, I had that question written down to ask you the correlation between how we sound and how we treated. So just to, to go into that a little bit more, um, right now, since you’ve brought it up, do you feel that, so there’s the obvious sort of ones, right? Like you mentioned, right? So it’s someone that maybe comes from a lower income, lower socioeconomic, um, area that has a particular accent. So they are now treated that way. They’re treated with less respect, uh, potentially given less opportunity and all those things. Right. Um, do you think that that could also go the other way around? Are there certain, like, like are there certain international accents that may be seen as like, oh, that’s even more prestigious and I’m gonna give you more respect? Or is an accent almost always a negative thing?
Samara Bay (07:29):
I’ll tell you, it’s not right. We, I think anyone listening has some instincts around this, some accents, code four elite. And if I’m gonna get real honest about this, because there’s linguistics going on here, but there’s also social justice going on here, and we need to talk about the ways in which, um, accent bias runs along class lines and along race lines. Right. And along gender lines. Um, so just to name it colonialism, if you hear a British accent and you think, oh my God, that person must be so smart, regardless of what they’re saying, it’s because Americans have a complicated relationship with the Brits, but we know for sure that they owned us at one point. Right. So this is real, and this happens below the level of conscious thought. And what I’m interested in, in this realm is linguists inside of linguistic institutions all over the world know this stuff.
Samara Bay (08:23):
There are studies, accent bias, quote unquote is real. It’s studied, it’s known, but it’s not mainstream. Yeah. Right. And my interest is not just bringing it mainstream, but honoring that each of us are both a victim and the perpetrator of voice bias. In what ways are we accidentally upholding systems of power? We don’t even like, just because biases are biases, they happen instantly. Yeah. And of course, the goal is not to shame you on that, but to say, well, what would be your second wiser thought? Oops, I just discounted that person because of their accent. I caught myself. Yeah. Now what, how do I get curious instead?
Sebastian Naum (08:58):
Yeah. I mean, I grew up, so I’m from Argentina originally, and I moved when I was pretty young, so I was, you know, I lost my accent. And so English was my second language. But, um, when, I mean, I grew up with my mom who knew English very, very well. And when she came to the States, I mean, she had this obsession with getting rid of her accent. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Right. She hated sounding like a non-native.
Samara Bay (09:18):
It’s a survival mechanism. We can judge somebody who’s obsessed with losing their accent, but we know the social value of losing your accent.
Sebastian Naum (09:26):
Exactly. So for her, and the, but the funny thing is that as time passed, and I mean, she’s an author herself and, and she’s a speaker and she does all these amazing things. Shout out
Samara Bay (09:35):
Sebastian Naum (09:35):
Your mom. Yeah.
Samara Bay (09:37):
Sebastian Naum (09:39):
So, um, she, what I was, so, but later on, all these people would come and tell her like, oh my gosh. Like your voice is like the sound of an angel. Like, it’s so calming. I love your accent. It’s so sophisticated. And like, I think she had to have head, she probably has heard that a thousand times and still would probably choose to not have an accent. It’s just so funny how we are wired to, to wanna sound.
Samara Bay (10:02):
I have a movie star I’ve worked with who I’ll not name because I’m being very classy, who said to me in the privacy of, you know, a trailer before going on to set, no matter what I do and how successful I am and how I sound, I will still be an immigrant.
Sebastian Naum (10:22):
Samara Bay (10:23):
And, you know, literally an immigrant is fine. An immigrant is, yeah. That’s nothing wrong with that. This is how humans move through space, but you know what she meant, people will judge me and put me into a category that I haven’t chosen my entire life.
Sebastian Naum (10:34):
Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. So, Samara, you say that everyone has a voice story. What’s the difference between a voice story and your personal story?
Samara Bay (10:45):
Hmm. Such a good question. I think of a voice story, which I, I really just sort of made up to try to capture the spirit of this as like a money story. So we know that a money story, if we have one, it’s not about the facts of our own life or even the facts of our own interaction with money, but rather some of the and myths that we’ve collected, both from our personal experience and from the culture at large in the stories that get told culturally, the messaging around, you know, in the case of money, money is evil, money is dirty, you know, uh, for artists, if you have it, you’re a sellout. Right? So similarly, there are voice stories, and I’m kind of here to just wave a flag and say they exist even though voices are, are invisible. And almost none of us have language or any experience naming our voice stories.
Samara Bay (11:35):
So here’s a few examples. Some of it does interact with our, um, personal story. Some of it is where did we grow up? Right? What did our parents sound like? Did we, and they have an accent different from our neighbors, right? What was going to school like when you were really little? Did you know that you, you fit in? Or did you know that you stood out? What did belonging feel like? And were there any choices or changes that you made in how you talked in order to fit in on a purely survival level? And then there are these much more, I don’t know, wiggly wiley questions. Like, when you left home, did you shed any aspects of your identity vocally? Because you could tell this was your chance to change how you get treated in, uh, your first job when you were dating somebody.
Samara Bay (12:27):
When did you learn, you anyone listening? When did you learn how to come across as likable or as smart or get a little closer to quote unquote being taken seriously? I went to Princeton undergrad. I surely picked up habits there of, oh, that’s how that person sounds when they sound smart. Could I move my mouth a tiny bit in order to approximate that sound? Yeah. I think I probably could. Let’s try that Now. Does that become the new me, or is that fake? Right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, these questions are, there’s no right answer, but they are indicative of a life lived in constant flux with the people around us. And the, as I like to say, what we’ve done to get by in rooms of power. Yeah. And sometimes this entails the ways in which we have learned to play small or be unintimidating. A lot of the things that are called quote unquote feminine markers in linguistics up speak and vocal fry saying, sorry, when you don’t really need to. These are actually brilliant ways of, um, signaling to the more powerful people around you that you are not a threat.
Sebastian Naum (13:36):
Samara Bay (13:36):
<affirmative> until, for many of us, for a lot of people who are picking up my book, they’re like, wow, those habits kept me small. They worked. I’m really over them and I’ve perhaps outgrown them and what is next? And no one knows it quite as literally as I just articulated it. Right. But there’s some feeling of whatever I’m doing isn’t working anymore, and I need more power.
Sebastian Naum (13:57):
Yeah. So interesting. As you were talking about that, I, you know, I’m thinking about like, my, my personal, uh, voice story. And mine is so funny because it’s so all over the place, just from, just from the basics that my accent in Argentinian Spanish, it’s from a region that would be almost equivalent to like our southern accent mm-hmm. <affirmative>, which is totally, completely different than my mega Southern Californian accent that I have when I speak English. So right there, I’ve got two completely divided types of accents. When I speak Spanish, I’m seen in one way. When I speak English, I’m seen in another way. I also noticed that when I went to Australia and spent some time there, everyone loved my accent. It was the sexiest thing in the world. But then I go to London, it’s like, nah, America, it’s like, it’s just so funny. Right? So it just depends on where you are, you’re
Samara Bay (14:45):
Talking. It’s so cultural
Sebastian Naum (14:46):
And it’s, and
Samara Bay (14:47):
It’s, and it’s, so, it’s, those are such great examples. And the other part of everybody’s voice story, which maybe you experienced as well, maybe, maybe those of you listening did, is offhanded comments. You know, I said they have an outsized impact. Those comments can be, uh, well-meaning, right? It can be a, it can be a uncle or a boss or a somebody who took you aside and said, listen, I noticed you say like a lot. Right? No one’s gonna take you seriously if you do that, but, but I bet you can figure out how to, you know, stop it and you’re like, a, I don’t know how to stop it. Yes. And B, now I feel self-conscious. Yeah. And c I’m embarrassed, or maybe even ashamed because why did I pick up this habit that’s now hurting me? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, what is this self-sabotage? What did I do?
Samara Bay (15:28):
Why did I do this? Yeah. Right. So then we’re, we’ve got all of these layers of drama inside of us. And everybody, when I mention this, it turns out everybody has it. Some of it is, oh, this girl in fourth grade told me my voice was annoying and I’ve never forgotten it. Right? Some of it is, is stuff that happens in a, in a work context. Some of it is, you know, if you Google, how do I sound more authoritative, or how do I sound like a leader? Google will also help fully spit out a bunch of how-to answers that are technically doable from keep your voice, uh, low pitch wise. No, no,
Sebastian Naum (16:09):
No. Up upward inflections.
Samara Bay (16:10):
Yes. Right? No upward inflection, but also no sing song, you know, up and downy. Right? Um, don’t get emotional that will scare people and make you seem unhinged. Uh, speak at 75% your regular rate. I love that one. So it sort of suggests that if we want to sound powerful, we should always speak at a measured pace. It’s like, yes, these are quick fixes that will absolutely signify to your audience, oh, that’s a powerful person, but I wonder if these quick fixes are actually hurting us long term. And that’s what I’m really interested in, because we are here to change what power sounds like we are here to become the type of leaders we would like there to be more of in the world. And I’ll just continue to chase whatever that old standard was.
Sebastian Naum (16:55):
And so that’s what you’re here to change, what the, what the sound of power sounds like, and also how that change, who has the power, right? But before we go into who has the power and how that affects business or the world in general, what is the sound of power?
Samara Bay (17:31):
I like to think of this in terms of the old sound of power and the new sound of power. Of course, inevitably there’s a range in both categories, and I don’t mean to oversimplify so much that it’s meaningless, but I will say that that list of Google suggestions comes from a long lineage of who has been allowed to speak on a stage. I mean, from 2000 years ago in the ancient Greeks to, you know, 50 years ago to 20 years ago, depending on who you are and what, you know, industry you’re in mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And there are some variety inside of that. Everybody has their own voice story, but there is a standard for what power Sounds like that I think we can actually name, you know, I, I make a point of this in my introduction, calling out, for example, John F. Kennedy in the clips that we watched in school and, uh, Winston Churchill’s rousing wartime oratory.
Samara Bay (18:29):
Yeah. And even in the modern day, Steve Jobs’s famous commencement speech to Stanford and Stephen Colbert and Tom Hank speaking on two different sides of, you know, the late night desk. Yeah. And I like to point out that it’s not their fault. I’m not actually naming that any of these guys are doing anything wrong. I’m just saying that they define and have defined easy authority for generations and generations and generations. They are who not only we tend to knee jerk take seriously, but our parents and their parents. Right. And their parents. And then that leaves all the rest of us who aren’t, you know, that group of gentlemen I just named all fit into the category of all
Sebastian Naum (19:13):
Samara Bay (19:14):
Not just Right, exactly. But not just white males, but also straight and rich and large, physically large. That’s true. So it leaves all the rest of us who aren’t that Yeah. At this weird disadvantage where, I mean, I say it’s weird, it’s not weird because obviously the disadvantage is totally all of the, you know, power structures that exist in our culture. But what’s weird is we’re stuck going, okay, so if I wanna be a leader or an anchor or a hero or an expert, there’s one way to sound and it’s those guys, it’s not me. So I should put the work in to try to sound like them. And usually this happens below the level of conscious thought. Yeah. Right. Because if we were conscious of it, we would maybe hear the sort of idiocy inside of that. But instead we go, that’s what it sounds like to be on a stage and get taken seriously. Do I have the physical mechanism inside my body to shift by sound, to try to sound Yeah. Humans are amazingly resilient. We can totally pick up new sounds. Sure. Will we sound like ourselves? Will we recognize ourselves? Will we have fun inside of that? Less so.
Sebastian Naum (20:19):
Hmm. It sounds like, and feels like you have to change a lot of mindset to change the way you sound, but what happens if we change this the way we sound and change the way we speak? Does that also in turn change our mindset?
Samara Bay (20:32):
I’m interested in that. I think it happens both ways for sure. I mean, breath alone, look, a lot of us have a habit of holding our breath and freaking out to let it go. And obviously we are breathing enough to literally stay alive, but we’re not really breathing enough for our whole lower part under our diaphragm, the messy gut part of our body to like actually rearrange itself because we have taken in so much breath that our diaphragm, uh, bends down into that area. And that is an ideal kind of breathing, but it’s not something we’re doing most of the time. But why? So you could say, oh, we just need to stretch more. We just need to do more exercises, more haha breath work ahead of time. That’s cool. That is su super good. Do it, go for it. Take a run around the block.
Samara Bay (21:19):
Your body will remember how to breathe. But we can also, on the mindset side of things that you’re bringing up mm-hmm. <affirmative>, we can also get curious about why we might be holding our breath. Not because there’s a one answer and one answer alone, but because the asking that why, getting curious about why is a way of saying honor that most of us have picked up habits to get by in rooms that weren’t made for us, like holding our breath in order to brace for whatever response we might get. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I’m not saying that it’s good to do that, but I am saying that it’s understandable to do that. And as you can tell, I am on a pretty huge anti shame campaign around voices. So if we’ve picked up habits that helped us, but are now hurting us, let’s just like celebrate that we are resilient and we’ve figured that out. And now what else? And now what else?
Sebastian Naum (22:15):
Yeah, that’s so interesting. Just really getting curious. It’s just works with so much in life, just if you really get I
Samara Bay (22:22):
Know, right? <laugh>, it’s so easy to be like, oh, why me? Why did I do this stupid thing? You know? I mean, I have this origin story myself that has really led to this work. I mean, not as a coach, but as a empathic human inside of the work, quite honestly. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, when I was 24, I was in the middle of an acting graduate program for three years, and I lost my voice and it was months and I wasn’t sick and I could not figure out what was happening, but it was too painful to speak. Wow. And I dropped outta the play I was in, obviously I was still going to class because why not? But I was like a ghost. I mean, no one paid attention to me because they knew I wouldn’t say anything. Wow.
Sebastian Naum (23:07):
Samara Bay (23:07):
Was so odd. And I finally got myself to an ear, nose and throat doctor mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And they stuck a little scope up my nose, a little tiny, tiny camera up my nose and down the back of my throat and got this extremely memorable photo of my vocal chords. And you could tell from that photo what was wrong. I had these little angry blisters on both sides of the V that makes up our vocal chords. And that’s a telltale sign of vocal nodules. It’s a, it’s like the blister when you’ve been raking along, but you’re not a gardener. So it’s not like day 75, it’s day one. And they’re just starting to get kind of red and angry, but they’re not a hard end. And I guess thank God it was caught at that point. But what the guy told me was, you have to go on vocal rest.
Samara Bay (23:53):
And this is probably from habitually speaking a little bit too low. Why did I, why? Right. Like, why did I speak at a pitch that wasn’t my natural pitch? And it took me a while to answer that question. And I went to a speech pathologist who helped me relearn how to talk. But in the meanwhile, I had this moment when I went back to class the day that I got that diagnosis. And I walked in and everybody stopped. And the guy who ran the program turned to me and he said, so what’s the diagnosis? And I said, like, deeply painfully and fairly audibly, um, vocal nodules, I have to go on vocal rest. And he said, huh. Just as I thought, bad usage.
Sebastian Naum (24:43):
Samara Bay (24:45):
Right. Like, it’s a weird phrase and he is not wrong, but the way he said it made it totally clear in the moment, I’m to blame. Yeah.
Sebastian Naum (24:56):
I you up. Shamed you. Yeah. He shamed you. Yeah.
Samara Bay (24:59):
He shamed me. And I didn’t know what to do with that shame that lasted way longer than the actual vocal issues. Right. And in a way, I realized while I was writing this book, it’s the book I wish I had, had had then.
Sebastian Naum (25:14):
Hmm. That’s beautiful. Can we almost, can we almost thank him now looking back for what
Samara Bay (25:21):
It Oh, for sure. Oh, for sure. Totally. And, and also, look, everyone has their voice story. He was just projecting his own, you know, so is everyone who’s ever told us, you’re too much, you’re too loud, you’re too quiet, you’re too whatever. Yeah. They’ve got their own stuff. So
Sebastian Naum (25:35):
Yeah. So this has so much to do with, um, authenticity and being our authentic, there’s so much out there about being our authentic selves. And so how do we speak with authenticity? How do we know we’re speaking with authenticity? If you hear me talking to my best friend, it sounds very different than when I’m talking to my family or when I’m talking on my podcast.
Samara Bay (25:56):
I love that you say this because yes, I think there’s an accidental, um, misunderstanding inside of authenticity that we have one authentic voice and all the others are fake <laugh>. But what you’ve just beautifully articulated is that there’s so many different versions of us that come out with our, I mean, you know, the word in linguistics is code switching. And that’s word gets used to a huge amount culturally and is super loaded for the black community because there is this obligation to sound, quote unquote white in white spaces mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But the term code switching is really meant to capture the spirit of any of us feeling that we should switch based on the room that we’re in, and sometimes switch language, sometimes switch dialects, sometimes just switch sort of style of speech. And we do, because we know who we’re talking to and we should, right. We should mirror, we talked to a five year old differently than we talked to a lawyer who’s calling because there’s something wrong in a contract and they’re gonna try to sue us. I mean, that’s a such a different Yeah. You know, social act, those two things.
Sebastian Naum (26:56):
I mean, I’ve found that even like at work at my agency with my teams and all that, the most, the, the more me that I’ve become and just speaking normal how I talk and, you know, I curse and all the things, and that actually gets me a much better feedback. And it, it makes everyone feel more connected and it’s more easy and chill and everyone, I don’t know. Everyone loves that.
Samara Bay (27:15):
So let me give a definition of authenticity so that we can some working definition rather than this like vague, because obviously I’m curious about this too. We all know, let’s just name this, we all know that Austen authenticity is about feeling true.
Sebastian Naum (27:31):
Samara Bay (27:31):
We can feel it when someone’s being that way to us. We can feel it when we are or aren’t. Right? So it’s trying to capture some spirit of truthness, but how do we do that? Right? And here’s my working definition. Authenticity is talking about what we care about. Like we care about it. And this is actually hard because most of us have a history for very good reason having to do with safety. Really a history of either talking about what we care about, but acting like we don’t care about it to protect ourselves. Right. I’m super, super enthusiastic about this, but it sounds crazy. So I’m gonna sound less enthusiastic mm-hmm. <affirmative> and just be like, whatever. Right. Our, our voice can literally go into our throat and we can be like, yeah, I mean, here’s an idea I had.
Sebastian Naum (28:20):
So this is constantly changing depending on what you’re talking about at the time you’re talking about it to who you’re talking about it, authenticity is constantly in change, right?
Samara Bay (28:27):
Completely. But a habit we can get into if there’s sort of a, a spectrum here is on one side we can talk about what matters to us when we’re in unsafe situations or uncomfortable situations. So maybe not with your best friend, maybe not with a five-year-old, but when you’re in an uncomfortable situation, and I’m, I think the bar for that could be really low. Like just something where you’re just not totally sure where you stand, where what the other person’s thinking. Right? This happens all day, every day, right. So we can either habitually or in the moment under care, we can know on our insides that we care a lot, but we can do everything we can to seem like we don’t in order to protect ourselves. So often that means vocally that we go into our throat, right? And we go, uh, yeah. I mean, it’s cool, you know, whatever.
Samara Bay (29:10):
Yeah. Either way, right? This is like a huge deal to me, but like, we’re not, you know, so that’s one thing we can do. And then the other on the opposite extreme is we can push, we can act like we care more than we do. This is often a customer service habit and certainly, um, is is in both sort of the bro marketing world and also in, um, stereotypically kind of the, the people pleasing vi vibe that might seem more, um, resonant with, with women. But it, it will sound like, oh my gosh, yes, I care so much about this thing and I’m so glad to help you e everybody here and be of use. It’s not necessarily untrue, but the amount of energy that you’re putting in also feels like hiding. Yeah. It’s, it’s hiding by over carrying on that end and under carrying on this end. So then the question is, what is it to dig deep, to take that real breath and to say in that sweet spot in the middle between those extremes, I’m talking about something that matters to me and I am willing to reveal that it matters to me.
Sebastian Naum (30:18):
Love that. It’s a great definition. Thanks. Really cool definition. Yeah. So let’s talk a little bit about women and marginalized individuals and, uh, minorities and how that sound of power and what you’re doing and, and really what you’re aiming to do with your book and everything you do in life. How does that affect, particularly those groups of people and how does it affect, um, their roles, you know, in, in society and work?
Samara Bay (30:46):
Well, you know, the main thing is that anybody who identifies with those, um, labels that you just used already on some level knows this is an issue. It’s like the straight white men in my midst also could totally use a lot of this advice. My husband fits into that category and he read the book and was like, <laugh>. So I’m really, really pleased by that, uh, feedback I’ve been getting from multiple people. But the, the reality is that if you’re a woman, if you’re a person of color, if you’re, if you’re, uh, an immigrant in English is your second language, you already know. You already know. You don’t necessarily have exactly the language that there’s quote unquote voice bias. But you know, that how you talk is always something you need to be aware of. And the question is, how much do I chase some standard or not?
Samara Bay (31:32):
And so I’m here to give some tips around how to even think about that. Not to be clear advice, do this or don’t do this because your lived experience will actually tell you what to do better than I ever would. And also what everybody’s individual, uh, industries are, what your office vibe is, what the, what the norms are, and how much wiggle room there is to match them or not. Right? This is the sort of subtle stuff that you’re picking up every day. What I’m here to talk about is specifically for the groups of people you just described, what do we do in the moments that really matter? What do we do when we get to pitch our idea to those VCs who really could fund our dream? What do we do when we get up in front of an audience at a conference and have some squirrely idea that’s just ours, mischievous idea, and we wanna really make an impact with it?
Samara Bay (32:35):
This is less about the office politics day-to-day. This is, is about those high stakes moments and how do we give ourselves permission to show up in those moments, like the version of ourself that is the most weird Hmm. And not the most generic. And the answer usually has to do with a, a bit of a clean out of the mind gunk around how you show up normally, what kind of feedback you’ve gotten, how you’re trying to hide your weird, right. The ways in which you’re different, and offering yourself an invitation to show up in a different way with a different level of joy or mischief than you’re used to doing. And knowing that you’re there to help. You know, we can definitely get into that vibe when we’re walking into pitch to a vc. They hold all the power, I hold none. I hope they like my thing. I hope they don’t laugh at me. And that is, uh, holdover from this fear-based approach to public speaking. That is totally understandable. That’s exactly,
Sebastian Naum (33:37):
I mean, it is, it is true at that moment. That person holds the power at that moment. You, we hope
Samara Bay (33:41):
That yes and yes and correct, right? Yes. And that VC wants to find the thing that will give them not just a chance to make back their money, but also a chance to feel like they’re doing good in the world, which is they know and, you know, deeper and more meaningful mm-hmm. <affirmative> than whether or not they give you money. So there is a mindset shift if we choose not to go in with the fear-based, but instead with the love-based approach to public speaking, I’m gonna talk about what I care about in such a way that the care spreads where we can think to ourselves, even if it feels ridiculous and delusional. It’s so lovely. Why not try it? I would suggest we can think to ourselves right before we go in, they are so, so lucky to have me talking to them about my idea because they need it.
Sebastian Naum (34:32):
Samara Bay (34:33):
And that’s a total power shift.
Sebastian Naum (34:35):
Yeah. At the end of the day, they’re there because they are trying to find something different, something new, something more impactful.
Samara Bay (34:43):
So, and if they’re not great bad fit, but at least you win. And it had a little more fun. And actually, this is for any, it doesn’t have to be as extreme as, you know, the person who holds the purse strings. This is in any situation where we are speaking and other people are listening, I like to offer this, uh, metaphor that I came up with partly around, there’s like a big old stereotype. And if it doesn’t fit you wonderful that women aren’t so great at telling stories because, not because they’re bad storytellers, but because they talk themselves out of doing it. Because they fear either that they will be self-indulgent if they tell a story and take up too much time, or that, um, the story will be boring, not relevant. So instead, uh, allow me to suggest that the, that the, that the allegory, the image is, um, somebody’s choking and you know, c p r and everyone else in the space is like panicking. Oh my God, someone’s choking. Oh my God, what do we do? What do we do? And you’re there going, oh, I should probably raise my head and say, I know c p r and everybody will part ways and you’ll go save the person. Would you in that moment ever go, I know c p r, but ooh, I don’t wanna make it about me.
Speaker 3 (35:56):
Samara Bay (35:58):
And the challenge and the lovely challenge inside of public speaking is when we look out at an audience of people, they do not look like they are choking. And we get to use our imagination to go, what if they are? But what if they are?
Sebastian Naum (36:18):
Hmm. When you pull that, when you pull something that’s bigger than you and you, that helps you not make it about you about something bigger, something that has greater impact, that’s in the sense how they’re choking and how you could, you’re doing something for a greater good.
Samara Bay (36:33):
Always. Always. And you know, I know your audience, right? Absolutely. We are doing something for a greater good and whether or not we’re doing it for the people in that room, or we’re doing it for a group that we’re representing that’s not in that room. When we feel nerves, when we feel that kind of paralyzing, uh, fear of they’re gonna laugh at me, it’s because we’re accidentally falling into that trap of making it about us. And it is always about them. And the them is either the people in that room or someone is not in that room that you represent. Right. But making it about them, reinvesting in how much you are there to help them, the big them will actually rearrange our nervous system.
Sebastian Naum (37:13):
Hmm. I have to do that all at time tomorrow.
Samara Bay (37:16):
Right? It’s like carrying it scale. It’s so good. Me too. With selling this book, it’s like, you know what? I have not said a single time, a single time, please buy my book. I have said, grab yourself a copy and let’s change what power sounds like. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> or some variation thereof. I even have a yeah. Thing on my phone that says every ask, make sure I’m asking on behalf of those who need this message, those who will be helped, the ancestors who couldn’t access this kind of power, the kids who must.
Sebastian Naum (37:49):
Yeah. I love that. I love that. So Samara as this, um, with more power in our voices, there’s power, there’s a shift in power and leadership. And so as we were talking about women, minorities and I bring in the subject of conscious business and conscious capitalism that we were talking about before. And, and of course, what a lot of this podcast is about. You know, we care a lot about women in power and minorities and shifting those, um, shifting the power. How, how does this affect business as a whole? How do you see more powerful voices in women and minorities and people that typically don’t have the power? How does it change business overall, not just for them individually?
Samara Bay (38:33):
Well, and also as I look at at you, I also wanna name that this really isn’t just for women and people of color. Uh, although absolutely I center them in my book. Um, and, you know, I am a woman. Um, but also it’s for people who are willing to put, um, values above the bottom line. Hmm. And we know hopefully that, you know, in, in, in good business models, we don’t have to choose, but the idea of being the dreamer in this space, the person who’s willing to do what’s right, even if you lose money, it that doesn’t matter what your identity is, that already makes you a minority in a capitalist world. And that also is something I’m here to, you know, protect and, and amplify. So I think the answer to the question, the real answer is what I’m all about is inviting us to be the type of leadership we wanna see in the world every time we have the chance to speak in those moments that matter.
Samara Bay (39:39):
So if we want to grow to, for our kids to grow up, or for us to come into our own for our next phase, for our next, you know, bit of of time on this planet without horrific, you know, climate challenges. If we want this era to be filled with conscious leaders who are willing to be emotionally available, who are willing to say when they’re wrong, who are willing to think about leadership in a way that’s about lifting others who are about their background and their skills, uh, not just making them a good leader because of those skills, but also because of the empathy that their background has, you know, the lived experience that they’ve had. If we care about these things, if this is the type of leadership we wanna see more of in the world, we have the opportunity and the obligation to show up as that type of leader every time we have the chance to speak in the moments that matter. So if we start to get emotional and we think hide it, stoic is better, they won’t take me seriously if I show that I care, we get to have that second wiser thought, wait, no, I want the type of leadership that’s willing to say I’m being vulnerable in front of you because I’m showing you that I care and I’m not hiding it.
Samara Bay (41:00):
And that will affect all those groups that you just named and everybody, I mean, everybody who’s, who’s willing and interested in a different kind of leadership. It’s how we can own that now.
Sebastian Naum (41:15):
Love that. Love that very much resonates. Um, I think a a lot of us, uh, see a book like yours or even look at the subject, and they’ve, a lot of people think this only matters to people in leadership or those who are, uh, trying to speak publicly or have or wanna be in a position of power, but really it matters to everybody, right? Communication and the way we speak. Uh, I mean, it could be just a parent trying to speak to their teenager, uh, trying to tell their teenager why maybe, uh, the right path is going in this direction of maybe education and not drugs or something like that. Right. And they’re having conversations teenager. Right. And there
Samara Bay (41:55):
Is definitely, there’s a bit of a thread of parenting in this because I’m not parent
Sebastian Naum (41:58):
Parenting, right? And it’s just like, maybe even a lower level employee just trying to tell their boss, trying to tell the boss something or something like that. So I think it matters to so many, uh, it matters to everybody. I mean, at the end of the day, communication is literally the only way that, I mean, that’s the one tool we’re constantly using all day every day. Even if you don’t have your voice and your signing, it’s you’re communicating. You have to communicate in order to Totally.
Samara Bay (42:22):
I even, I even suggest, because I, I like to define public speaking quite broadly. I think it’s a weird old timey expression and like, you know, we get to define it however it actually feels applicable in our real lives. Asking a question in a meeting at a big conference, asking a question Yeah. Raising your hand and saying, yes, I’m gonna be brave enough for the entire spotlight, every single pair of eye to be on me. And of course, you’re asking a question because you’d like the answer to that question, but it is also a chance to flex your own leadership muscle, even if you are the technically least high positioned person in that space. Right. If you have the lowest, quote unquote status, you hold the floor, and how do you ask that question in a way that reflects the kind of leadership you’d like to see more of in the world?
Sebastian Naum (43:09):
Yeah. Yeah. I love that. Haven’t thought of that one, but yet it’s the scariest thing when you’re in a big crowd and you wanna answer a ask a question and just that. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s
Samara Bay (43:18):
Great. It’s modeling. It’s modeling. It’s like, you know, you and I are both doing this now in this interview. You know, I’m, we, you deliberately swear you said your oh moment up top. And then I was like, oh, that means this is the Sweary show. Fantastic. I’ll bring that version of me. Right. And we’re, and I have a cold, but I’m still like working through it in this way where I’m allowing myself to center my own joy and power and my version of power. That feels good. You know, you asked me earlier about what power sounds like. The reality is the old sound of power has kind of one definition. The new sound of power is inevitably diverse.
Sebastian Naum (43:54):
Samara Bay (43:54):
It is the diversity of all of us with our extremely unique lived experience coming out in the way we talk. And will we allow that to be the case or will we try to squelch it? And I’m here. I mean, permission to speak really means permission to bring that version of us that reflects our life experience, that reflects what brings us joy into spaces where the stakes are high, which is the hardest time. Right?
Sebastian Naum (44:21):
Yeah. Yeah. I love that. I love that. I asked you earlier about, we talked a little, we talked about accents in the beginning of the show. What about non-native? How much more difficult, or do you feel that people that are in fact non-natives are English as a second language and not really truly bilingual or fluent? Because I, I mean, I, I’ve gone to some conferences where with some keynotes where, you know, there was, uh, you know, a, a French woman up there or a, you know, um, a Swedish man or whatever, and they were, they had really thick, heavy accents. And, and even myself, like the very first quick judgment, it’s, there’s something less than because they have this huge accent and English isn’t their first language. And, and I had to think, I just noticed that. I’m like, why would I think that? Like, especially me, I’m from, you know, and you go through that whole thing and I you so easily.
Samara Bay (45:10):
Well, also, by the way, I appreciate you naming that, right? Because it, it is a bit vulnerable to name that we have voice biases, but thank you for Yeah. Calling that out, right? Yes, yes, yes, yes. Um, from my work with English as a second language clients, both in the business world and in the acting world, I can say that there’s really two things going on. One is the actual sounds that they do or don’t have access to, right? So there’s sounds in American English that maybe don’t exist in their native language, and they have to figure out, how do I make a th sound right? Do I just avoid it? Do I make a d? You know, like, what, what do I do there? Um, but the more interesting question is their relationship to speaking English, to how they show up to confidence. And somebody who has what we would think of as a light accent where the sound, they’ve actually figured out how to make most of the sounds in American English, and we understand them, but who are so self-conscious about their accent that they do vocal hiding anyway. They kind of hide their body, they hide their heart, they hide their throat, right? They, they, they mumble. Maybe they put their hands over their mouth when they talk. I’ve seen all of this. Are they in a better or worse communication position than somebody who has what we would call a thicker accent, who has less access to the American sounds, but who has just decided they are English right where they stand?
Sebastian Naum (46:27):
Yeah. It’s clear at the end of the day. It’s the sound of power that you were talking about. That’s right. It’s like confidence is how they’re carrying
Samara Bay (46:35):
That’s right. Which is not to invalidate that accent bias is real. And both of those groups are completely validated in knowing that having an English is a second non-native language, as you say, non-native accent is going to affect how they get traded. But then they get to decide, how do I meet that moment? Sure,
Sebastian Naum (46:54):
Sure. Uh, and I don’t know if this is the right analogy, but it just kind of came to my head. It said something like, okay, you grow up and you love playing basketball and like your homies on your team, you know, they’re six seven and six five and you’re six, oh, you’re gonna have a little bit of a disadvantage, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play the game. And if you can have different ways that you can go in and be better at in different ways and, and attack it differently, and if you’ve got the confidence, you can still be a great ball player. You don’t have to be seven feet tall. Right. So
Samara Bay (47:19):
I love that. Totally, totally. And you know, we can’t affect our hype. Exactly. In some cases with the accents, you know, you can go find a dialect coach, whatever, but maybe you can’t affect your accent. Right. Look, we all had sounds that we had access to. We had here, I’ll put this differently when we were babies, all of us have access to all the sounds humanly possible, right? And then depending on exposure, the synapses break off, right? Oh, we don’t need that sound. It’s not gonna be useful. Learning that language 20 years later, 30 years later, after those synapses died off is hard. Possibly impossible, depending on, you know, your own whatever, psychology and access and everything. So <laugh> working on the other skills, like how to be confident as the version of English that you are
Sebastian Naum (48:09):
Samara Bay (48:10):
Is definitely a way to level the field.
Sebastian Naum (48:13):
Absolutely. Absolutely. What’s the most outlandish, uh, tip or thing that you’ve heard in terms like other speech coaches or something that had mentioned that you’re like, that is not a
Samara Bay (48:22):
Good, you know, I’ll tell you one that is outlandish, but also totally normal. Count your ums and uhs,
Sebastian Naum (48:28):
Samara Bay (48:29):
This kind of thing drives me batty. I get it. The impulse is, if somebody says I’m anah a lot, they are in their head about not sounding fluid. How can you help them? Well, you can make them conscious of their habits. I get it. I get it. But the reality of telling somebody, especially somebody who’s already at a disadvantage in a, you know, white, patriarchal world, uh, that policing yourself further is the secret is the opposite of permission. You know what the opposite of permission is? Shame. So to just embarrass yourself over and over and over, it’s like, it’s, it’s, I care about everybody making the impact they wanna make and also feeling good, like their body actually feeling good while they do it. Yeah. So I don’t think counting your ums and uhs is the solution to feeling good. I will say in my own experience and from coaching thousands of people at this point, two things about ums and uhs.
Samara Bay (49:28):
If you are actually worried about this one a, a certain amount of, um, and ah, all of us do, and it’s a generous act. We’re not even aware we’re doing it. It signifies, I’m gathering my thought, I’m about to finish it. Uh, don’t worry, I’ll get back to you in a moment. And the listener does not hear it as an, um, anah. They hear it in, in exactly the way that it was intended. Oh, I shouldn’t interrupt. There’s a second half of the thought coming up. Yeah. So a lot of the ums and ups are actually just totally practical and serve their purpose. If you fear that you’re uming and eyeing more than that, or you know, you are, when you’re talking about certain subjects that you haven’t worked through how to talk about yet, the answer is obviously partly working through how to talk about it. Partly deeper than that, you may not be totally believing that you deserve to take up time and space and that your ideas are worthy. I have found in my own life that when I trust that what I have to say matters, I say, um, and, uh, less and so do my clients
Sebastian Naum (50:32):
Naturally just happens.
Samara Bay (50:35):
So on the one hand, police them every single ahah, aah, which will just make you more self-conscious. On the other hand, invest in how much your ideas are worth hearing.
Sebastian Naum (50:46):
Samara Bay (50:48):
You know, I sold this book in this crazy bidding war, 13 publishers were fighting over the book. It was wild. And they were all calling me a thought leader. And you know, obviously there was a part of me that was rolling my eyes at that. Like, okay, okay, influence or folly. Sure, sure, sure. Uh, that term can just get thrown around to everybody these days. And then the other part of me was like, wait, but if I just roll my eyes, I’m missing the opportunity here, which is if I’m a thought leader, if you are a thought leader, if any of us are thought leaders, how much more would we trust our own thoughts?
Sebastian Naum (51:20):
Samara Bay (51:22):
Why don’t we just do it?
Sebastian Naum (51:24):
Especially, I think that we are in a world where so much power is giving to followership on social media and things like that, where, you know, if we don’t have that and we’re not a quote unquote influencer, we don’t feel like a thought leader. Whereas before that it didn’t even exist. Um, I think that has a lot of, I don’t know, uh, it has a big negative effect on a lot of things. And so it’s easier to feel small when we’re constantly in such a bigger comparison mode since the moment we wake up <laugh>. It’s just
Samara Bay (51:59):
So, you know, inside of all of that is just an invitation. Just what if I thought of myself as a thought leader or fill in the blank any other term that doesn’t make you cringe. How much more would I trust my own thoughts?
Sebastian Naum (52:15):
I love thought later?
Samara Bay (52:17):
And that is good. And that is a more effective way to deal with your ums than us. The end. There
Sebastian Naum (52:25):
You go. I love that. Yeah. That’s great. Um, Samara, what are two traits that a conscious leader must embody today for you?
Samara Bay (52:40):
I think, um, emotional availability is really hard. I think there’s such pathologizing of emotions in our culture, and by emotions I don’t just mean sadness, right? Enthusiasm, hope, optimism. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, anger, fire, you know, um, being able to tap into those things and know that the message that you’re sharing, if it feels appropriate for any of those emotions to coexist, then it is, it is appropriate and it’s actually inappropriate for them not to exist. That is hiding and you’re not gonna be as trustworthy. So what is the second half of your message? Right? The first half is the words, the second half is the emotional content that goes with the words. And are you brave enough to show up with both parts of that message?
Sebastian Naum (53:30):
Samara Bay (53:30):
I think the others listening, compassionate listening and knowing that part of what we’re listening for when we’re listening to the people you know, who are below us is different styles of communication and getting curious rather than judgey.
Sebastian Naum (53:49):
Hmm. I love that. I love that. Samara. Well, uh, permission to Speak is officially out, so go out and get yourself a copy. Uh, Samara, thank you so much for being on. You truly are a conscious leader yourself, so keep doing you. Thank you again. Oh,
Samara Bay (54:02):
Thanks for that. That’s really sweet. Thanks a