#117 Beyond Dependency: Rediscovering True Connection

Today's Guest: David Doerrier

Today, I interview David Doerrier who faced childhood insecurities and a long battle with addiction. He embarked on a path of self-discovery that led him to rediscover his authentic voice and passion. David is a testament to the power of resilience and personal growth.

David found himself in careers that had him in front of people daily. He knew this was what he wanted to do. However, he had loud voices in his head that were telling him he was no good, laughing at him, and doing all they could to get him to give up.

Military, radio broadcasting, stage acting, training, voiceover. It wasn’t until he was in his 50s that he could pinpoint where the insecurity originated, his narcissistic Mother. He knew something was wrong but had no idea what it was. He thought that the problem was him.

Through his engaging storytelling and personal experiences, David emphasizes the importance of ownership and connection in effective communication. He draws parallels between his own struggle to find a connection in his early life and his principles of engagement for speakers. Through his insights, David highlights the transformative power of finding one’s voice and fostering meaningful connections in both personal and professional interactions.


David Doerrier (Door-Re-Err) works with trainers, facilitators, sales organizations, and other presenters struggling to engage and impact their audience.

As an expert in the adult learning theory, David works with his clients to incorporate eight simple principles that are guaranteed to motivate any audience to listen, act, and be more likely to retain information, take the next step, and purchase your product or service.

David is a seasoned Toastmaster, proficient Instructional Designer, Train the Trainer and Facilitation expert, voiceover artist, and professional Santa Claus.

Watch the episode:

Connect with David Doerrier

Transcript of Interview

Transcript of Interview

Find Your Voice, Change Your Life Podcast

Podcast Host Dr. Doreen Downing

Free Guide to Fearless Speaking Doreen7steps.com

Episode #117 David Doerrier

Beyond Dependency: Rediscovering True Connection”

(00:35) Doreen Downing:
Hi, this is Dr. Doreen Downing and I’m the host of the Find Your Voice, Change Your Life Podcast. And the reason why I love inviting guests is because I get to hear stories about what happened in their past and how they started out in life, perhaps a journey into being the most they can be. But something got in the way, like not having a voice.

And lots of times people don’t quite understand what that means or where it came from, but it seems like most of our guests have figured out what went wrong along the way and have, oh, taken a journey to find their voice. So today, David Doerrier hello. I want to introduce you.

(01:23) David Doerrier:
Okay. Thank you, Dr. Doreen. It’s so great to be here with you on the podcast. I’ve been following you for quite some time, and now to be a guest, this is such a pleasure. 

(01:33) Doreen Downing:
I’ve had over 115 guests already in the last couple of years, so that’s a lot of conversation, but a lot of learning. And today I know you’ll be not only giving us some of your backstory, but you’ll be helping us understand more about how to engage audiences.

So let me read the bio that you sent. David Doerrier works with trainers, facilitators, sales organizations, and other presenters struggling to engage and impact their audience. The lack of engagement will cause an audience to tune out and not take the next step. And as an expert in adult learning theory, David works with his clients to incorporate eight simple principles that are guaranteed to motivate any audience to listen and act and take that next step. And David is a seasoned Toastmaster proficient instructional designer, train the trainer and facilitation expert, voiceover artist, and professional Santa Claus. And for those who aren’t watching this and can only listen, he has a jolly face with a very white beard.

So I do think that’s been a good profession for you. And I guess it’s just once a year. There you go.

(03:03) David Doerrier:
Yes. Once a year. But it brings a lot of joy, not only to the folks that I visit, but brings a lot of joy to myself as well.

(03:12) Doreen Downing:
Oh, that’s wonderful because I think a Santa that is radiating warmth and happiness, and joy, naturally I think is magnetic for not just only little kids but those of us who are supporting the little kids to come close and present their wishes. Santa provides an opportunity for people to wish and I’m just going to take a moment and wish for something beautiful. I’m about to go on a vacation. So that’s what I’m wishing for, wonderful relationships, adventures that are positive, and happiness. Thank you, Santa.

(03:53) David Doerrier:
Alright, I see it for you.

(03:57) Doreen Downing:
Aw. thank you. Now back to our podcast here. Because I am a psychologist, we always like to get your fingers in there and say, “Hey, where did you come from?” “What was your family like and what were some of those early episodes that you might recall?”

Where you might have felt like less than, or not quite as exuberant, or maybe you didn’t even know you had a problem at that time, but just anything that you want to share about your early life. 

(04:27) David Doerrier:
Oh, that’s a great place to start. I am originally from Long Island, New York. I was born, raised, and conceived in Babylon, Long Island, New York, not necessarily in that order, and I was there until I was 18 when I joined the Air Force.

But to stay in that childhood period for a while. Yes through the years, through my adult years, over the past 15 years, I’ve been in a lot of counseling and I’ve learned a lot about what was going on in my life back then, because back then I knew things just weren’t right. I didn’t know what it was.

I couldn’t put my finger on it. I knew I wasn’t happy. I was the kid that was picked on at school. Oh, and there was also one occasion that I remember as a child that really changed things. It happened when I was about 10ish years old. Maybe, yes, somewhere between 8 and 10.

Prior to that, I don’t remember a lot about my life, but what I can surmise is that everything was okay. I didn’t realize the negativity that was going on in my life. I’m the oldest of five children, but there was an incident that happened where it was during the summer months, must’ve been on the weekend.

My mother was at home and I was being picked on by some neighborhood kids, and I came running home crying with my arms wide open, going to my mother, asking for some sort of support and there was absolutely nothing there. And I can still see it. I can still feel it to this day. And right then I noticed that my life changed.

All the insecurities came rushing forward, maybe all the things those kids were saying to me must have been true. I wasn’t getting any support at home. Then, I remember as a kid always looking for something else. Something was missing, but I have to find it. But I have no idea what it is. And if I had found it, I don’t even know if I would’ve known if I had found what it was I was looking for.

So that was kind of the start of things as a child of the low self-esteem of not feeling that I was good enough, that I was smart enough, that I wasn’t whatever enough. And then drugs came into my life when I was about a year before I graduated high school and remained in my life for a number of years.

And that’s a whole other thing to talk about.

(07:09) Doreen Downing:
But before we do, let me go back because at first I just want to thank you for being so self-disclosing and giving us some of those graphic details. In fact, you know the moment you ran home to get embraced and to get reassured and get soothed, and there wasn’t anything there.

And that in early childhood, what happens is that the way we are treated by those caretakers, our parents usually, forms a way in which we later start treating ourselves. So I think, you’re right, it does go right into what happened later around drugs probably. But I have another comment I would like to make.

What was it that the little kids were saying about you? What were they picking on you for? What was it? 

(08:02) David Doerrier:
I don’t know exactly, but just briefly, the backstory of this particular incident, the evening before I had gone to the drive-in movies with this young kid, he was a couple of years older than me, and with his parents. It was myself, him, and his parents.

We went to the drive-in movie, and I remember having this wonderful time and I was a part of the conversation. Everything was going great. And so the next day I went over to his house and was going to just pal around with him. And then we ended up going to another kid’s house who was a little bit older than the both of us.

And then that kid started picking on me, and then the kid that I went to the drive-in movie with, he started picking on me. And they both were ganging up on me. I guess it was about, not being smart enough, not being good-looking enough, whatever it is these kids say to one another. I don’t know the particulars, but whatever it was cruel enough to get me emotional enough to run home crying.

(09:09) Doreen Downing:
And even though it’s not like what we often hear from people, especially on this podcast like a major kind of trauma, but still for a little brain, there’s an assault on you, on your being, on your personhood, and you need to get some kind of reassurance or comfort that you’re okay in that moment. Oh, for me, it’s a chilling moment that you described.

(09:36) David Doerrier:
And something you just made me think about, right now is the first time I’m thinking of this, is that breaking of that trust because the night before it was such a wonderful evening. And then I go to the kid’s house with all of these high expectations to continue that high.

And then we go to another kid’s house. That older kid starts picking on me. Now, this other kid joins in and now that trust is broken, what the heck just happened here? Yes. I guess the only word I can come up with at this point is that trust was broken. 

(10:13) Doreen Downing:
Oh, good insight.

Yes. That’s fabulous. Thank you for being open at the same time as we are talking. It’s like we both are exploring together your life and, I’m glad you’re still inquiring. You know, oh my goodness. You’re still learning. And that’s part of what I think, as people who are into personal growth and personal development and helping others do, that’s what we have to do.

We have to show what you just did, David. Demonstrate that you are open to new information about yourself and your life as you move on. So thank you. Thank you. Drugs, what happened?

(10:57) David Doerrier:
I was introduced to marijuana, I guess this was the summer between my junior and senior year in high school, and I went to rehab a couple of years ago for substance abuse, and one of the things I learned from it, is I was looking for connection.

That whatever the substance happens to be or whatever the addiction happens to be, a lot of it comes from looking for some sort of connection, and I know that’s what I felt. That first time I smoked marijuana, I was in a car with myself, a friend of mine, and two kids in the front seat that probably were part of the gang that would pick on me at school.

But we all smoked this joint, and now I was a part of this unit. We were all laughing. We were all contributing to the conversation, and they were laughing at what I was saying. I was laughing at what they were saying. There was this enormous connection. And what I’ve also heard about substance abuse and about addiction is that you’re always looking for that same high, that same feeling from that first time.

And I guess at least that’s what I was looking for. And it became a part of my life I guess from 18 through my early sixties, marijuana was an extreme part of my life. 

(12:26) Doreen Downing:
Oh, this is shocking. It’s so exciting talking to you because you’ve really been on a journey. What occurred to me, also the word connection that you just used. What instantly it did for you is to bring you close to other people, and how that then repaired the fact that the earliest kind of connection wasn’t there.

The kind of comfort or the listening or the helping just wasn’t there for you. There wasn’t a connection, it was like the way you described it earlier was just nothing there. You went there for support and she did not give it. And yes, so it makes sense that, this avenue called drugs, opened you up to what we all need that deeper sense of we belong, we’re connected to others. And there’s something else about you today that I’m absolutely enjoying, is the word you used earlier about joy. And I think I’d imagine that the kind of high we get off of drugs is like joy, right?

(13:36) David Doerrier:
It was for a period of time, I think the abuse, I definitely abused it. And, there was a period of time when I would smoke and I would be euphoric and have this wave of creativity. Marijuana was the only drug of choice that I had. Alcohol was never an issue. Other drugs were never an issue, but definitely abused. And I was lucky during my time in the military never being caught, never being drug tested. I was very lucky. And I wanted to focus on one other thing about the connection at home, and there was a lot of judgment in the house that I grew up in. And I felt that I could not come home. And express joy. Say, “Hey, guess what I did today at school?”

Because I would be judged, I would be picked on, or I also couldn’t come home and tell someone that I made a mistake or I couldn’t make a mistake at home because if I did make a mistake, I’d be picked on for that. So I would be picked on for displaying joy, ah, you’re still an idiot, or if I made a mistake, ah, you made a mistake.

Aha. So I didn’t talk, I was hoping for finding a cave. I had a lot of anxiety if we were going to open up the doors here. I wet my bed on the day that I left for the military. I wet my bed and I never did, ever since then. The only thing that myself and my therapist can come up with was extreme anxiety as a kid.

(15:12) Doreen Downing:
Oh. Isn’t it amazing that we are so resilient and our bodies and our brains can make it through the tough times? And I’m sure all of what you’ve already said is something that’s going to lead to major breakthroughs, which I’m excited to hear about. But I’m going to take a quick break and we’ll be right back.

(15:48) Doreen Downing:
Hi. We’re back now with David Doerrier and what a story, what a human being who was trapped in dysfunction, you might say, and drugs and low self-esteem for not only early childhood, and we have some hints about how that happened, but we also can see how that carried on for years into his adulthood.

So now we are back and we want to find out what happened next. 

(16:21) David Doerrier:
Quite a few things happened. I had mentioned I joined the Air Force after high school and I spent a total of 10 years active duty and 18 years in the reserves. But to back up a little bit, one of my passions, there was only really one passion that I had growing up as a kid, and that was radio.

There was something about radio that fascinated me, going to sleep with a transistor radio underneath my pillow. I had a couple of people tell me as a kid that I had a good voice. I didn’t realize it. I mentioned I had that low self-esteem, and you don’t hear your own voice like others hear your voice and then, I guess I was about eight years into my military career, I was stationed on Guam and I had an opportunity to go down to the local radio station.

And low and behold, a week later I get a call from the program director and he says, “Hey, would you like a job on the air?” And I was on the air within a week from the first time visiting that radio station. And that was the start of my 12-year radio career. But I should say that yes, the passion was there.

However, those negative voices were with me as well. When I first started on air listening to my own voice coming through the headphones, what I was envisioning was somebody pointing at the radio and laughing and calling me an idiot, like a doctor type person or a lawyer, a very educated type of person, pointing at the radio and calling me an idiot and judging me.

However, I was able to work through that. So that was one thing that came up in my life. And then, a few years later I got started in community theater. That put me up on stage in front of people. Those same negative voices were there. In the beginning it wasn’t the character on stage, it was David on stage with all of those insecurities.

And thinking that the audience was doing the same thing. They weren’t laughing at me, the character, they were laughing at David that I shouldn’t be there. So that’s some of the things that happened and I forget how I got onto that subject. 

(18:38) Doreen Downing:
We are exploring how you held yourself back, and you brought it back to voice.

That you said, gee, it turns out that you didn’t really have a voice and then you started to look at the radio. I have a voice on the radio, or you have a voice at the theater. But actually, it wasn’t truly yourself because you had these voices in your head. Yes. I don’t know what the word is.

Oppressing you or haunting you or teasing you. Hey, picking on you. Your own voice was picking on you. 

(19:11) David Doerrier:
Yes. Judging me. That’s an interesting way of looking at that, luckily, I didn’t quit because I feel that it would’ve been easy for me to quit, but it never occurred to me to quit radio.

It never occurred to me to stop theater because of these voices. There was something inside of me that was driving me to work through this because I guess I knew I had a voice. For radio, not only the physical voice, but I guess you could say the passion that would be the voice for radio.

I learned theater by the seat of my pants and to pat myself on the back. I have a number of awards that I won from local theater companies, and many people said that you should be on Broadway, you should be this and that.

I loved it. And so I guess that would be a way of me finding my voice in radio and theater and then eventually in what I do today with training.

(20:12) Doreen Downing:
All right. Before we get into that, which I am ready for almost, I want to hear what the breakthrough was. You mentioned something, obviously not alcohol, but the addiction in the past, and I don’t imagine you still have that, but what was the wake-up?

(20:29) David Doerrier:
It happened two years ago. It’ll be two years in Labor Day, September, two years I went off to rehab. Marijuana was a part of my life every day, smoking it.

And then once we were sequestered at home with C O V I D, it gave me even more of an opportunity to abuse it. And here at the house and I didn’t think I could live without it. I was driving my wife up the walls because she didn’t know who was showing up on a daily basis. Because it was changing my personality.

I knew that I shouldn’t be doing it every time I smoked. I would say to myself, I shouldn’t be doing this. I shouldn’t be doing this, I shouldn’t be doing this. And then I’d be coming down off that high. And then as I come down off the high, then I’m saying, oh, I need it. I need it. I need it. I need it. I felt I couldn’t live, I couldn’t survive. I couldn’t do anything without it. I couldn’t go to the store. I couldn’t socialize. I was driving my car all the time, stoned. I couldn’t do anything without it. I couldn’t give a speech. I couldn’t do training. I couldn’t show up for work.

I couldn’t do anything. And I would tell my wife, there’s no way I can stop. And I was in therapy. I was going to NA meetings stoned, and I would smoke when I leave there, I was faking my way through therapy. I went to therapy originally about seven years ago. I said, there are two things I want to be fixed.

One, I want to get happy. Two, I want to stop smoking. I worked on some of the happiness, but I didn’t stop smoking. And then eventually there was just one day, and I really don’t know what it was, but I knew that if I had continued on the path that I was on, number one, I would screw up my marriage.

Number two, with smoking and inhaling all of that certainly wasn’t good for my lungs. I was good at hiding it. There were so many people around me that never knew that I smoked. People that I even socialized with never knew it. People I worked with never knew it, but I knew that at some point it was going to pop up and it was going to really hurt me.

So something happened one day and I said I have to make a change. And I found a rehab center here in North Georgia and I went off for 30 days and it was the best thing I could have done.

(22:43) Doreen Downing:
Oh, wow. I’m so glad you found it too, and that we get to talk about it today because I think your story for those of my listeners, will be resonating because I’m sure that there are challenges people are facing right here today, right now as they’re listening and, they will see that no matter what, no matter how far down you are in any kind of trap or addiction, you can get help. There’s help all around, even though you should but you don’t. Eventually, the day will come. I’m so glad it wasn’t a crisis, that it was just a configuration of this is not good for me, this is not good for my health.

This is my realization. It’s like the value you had on your life was what propelled you to go to that rehab, and let’s come back then. So yes, with all the rehabilitation and the recovery and finding your voice, what is it that you do today that you help people with and, what can you share about that?

(23:52) David Doerrier:
So I guess in a way I’m helping people find their voice on stage. I work with individuals, organizations to help them to be able to communicate their message. Without bombarding their audience or vomiting information on their audience. My background through the military, through the Air Force Reserves, I ended up in training and development 30 years ago. Designing, training, delivering all types of training, and then in civilian organizations, and along the way was eventually training.

People within our organization to be trainers or facilitators or workshop leaders or speak at a conference. And I found that I really loved it and have been part of Toastmasters on and off for about 30 years. So today it’s all about helping them craft a message that’s engaging. It’s also memorable to their audience and has the potential to increase sales.

(24:56) Doreen Downing:
I’m looking at what you said, or somewhere I found that there was a system that you have. Was there eight, or what was the number? 

(25:06) David Doerrier:
Yes. Eight. There are eight engagement principles and these come from my time of training trainers to train. And the more that I use these principles, the more that I saw that anybody that’s doing any facilitation, any speaking, or running a meeting can benefit from these eight engagement principles.

Did you want to get into some of these? 

(25:31) Doreen Downing:
How about, I know that when I talk about my seven secrets, I love it. I want to talk about every single one of them, but I think it’s more compelling if you tell us about one or two, and then people can look you up for the rest. How’s that?

(25:45) David Doerrier:
Sure. Oh yes, that’s perfect because yes, we’d be here for a while with the full eight.

And I also have a book and if anyone wants a free copy of my ebook, they can just reach out to me and I’ll give some information later on how to find me. But there are two of them that I usually will talk about and I should say that at the foundation of these principles, by using these principles, the objective is to create engagement, to make your material memorable, and have a sticky factor.

(26:19) Doreen Downing:
Yes. That’s the whole point of these, sticky factor. Thank you. 

(26:22) David Doerrier:
And one of them is the principle of ownership. And this is where your audience needs to take ownership to listen. The only way that your audience will take ownership is that the presenter or trainer, or meeting the person running the meeting, whoever it is, have to set the stage properly for their audience to understand with them, what’s in it for me.

And if the audience doesn’t understand the value of this engagement. If they don’t see what’s in it for them, then they’re going to tune out. So the objective here is for the presenter to present their opening. In a way that now your audience says, “Yes, I see the value. Yes, I understand why I am here.”

I now know the benefit of listening to David, and when we get to the end of today’s discussion, I know I will learn X or know that better. So taking ownership in listening, and that’s an area where based on my experience in this career field, that’s an area where a lot of people miss setting the stage up front.

They miss setting objectives or stating the objectives. Why are we here? What are we doing? How are we going to get to our destination? What value will you get out of today’s session? Many times people will just dive straight into the deep end of the pool, and really they don’t set up the day at all or whatever the meeting is.

So the first is ownership. The second one is the principle of complexity in my years of training trainers to train. 

(28:06) Doreen Downing:
Yes. My eyes rolled. That’s a big word. Go ahead, tell us. 

(28:11) David Doerrier:
So this is one that I saw where a lot of trainers, not only new trainers but also experienced trainers struggled because they neglect to assess the audience’s current understanding of the subject or the material. Have you ever experienced, and I’m sure if I raise this question to the audience, have you ever experienced being a participant in a training session or some other type of seminar where the person presenting just started talking over your head and you couldn’t understand what it is?

So here’s an example and, let me follow that up with another question. How did that make you feel?

(28:57) Doreen Downing:
When you said complexity, my brain went, okay. I don’t know if I want to go there. So I guess it might be a shutdown.

(29:05) David Doerrier:
Sure. And yes, that’s a good explanation.

What I like to use is a visual of a swimming pool. That is when that facilitator does open up with very complex information. They’re talking over your head. To me, I visualize that facilitator diving down into the deep end of the pool, whereas the participants are down there at the shallow end of the pool.

Doreen Downing:
Wait for me.

David Doerrier:
Exactly. And that facilitator has now dragged everybody with him or her into that deep end of the pool. And now we’re all drowning. Because we’re being overwhelmed by all of this information. So the principle of complexity, the bottom line is understanding where your audience currently is with their knowledge level of the subject. Meeting them where they’re at, and then slowly bringing them to that deep end of the pool, or wherever your objectives happen to be in that pool. So that’s where my experience has been with these facilitators. They know their information really well, and so they forget that their audience doesn’t, and they come in just vomiting all of this information and overwhelming their audience.

So that is the principle of complexity. 

(30:24) Doreen Downing:
Thank you. Because we’re coming to an end. I think I want to make an observation here about what I’ve not only just learned from you, but how to me it feels like it’s directly connected to early life and your own struggle to find yourself and find your voice.

And I haven’t read all eight, but the two you mentioned today, taking ownership and complexity, doing it at the rate of which your listeners can be with you is, it’s all about connection. And that was a word we used earlier. And so that oftentimes what can be our greatest strength comes from what was missing earlier in our life because that was our challenge.

And so thank you very much for stepping down and showing us what it was like really for you in some of the troubled times, and also the joy that you’ve now found. Being yourself and being able to share this way of being so that the way that we speak is received by listeners.

Isn’t that the point?

(31:34) David Doerrier:
Yes. And you brought up something very interesting, your observation of the connection. Yes. Because I didn’t connect the dots myself up to this point that the principles of engagement are all about creating a connection with your audience, and that was missing from my life as a child searching for that connection.

Ah. So thank you. 

(31:56) Doreen Downing:
You’re welcome. I guess we’ll say goodbye for now. Maybe one last word of some little sprinkles of wisdom before we leave from you.

(32:07) David Doerrier:
Some little sprinkles of wisdom. Yes. Let’s see some sprinkles of wisdom. Can I leave people with the top three things that all speakers should remember when they’re presenting in front of an audience?

Number one is to know your audience. This goes back to the principle of complexity. You have to know your audience. Two, incorporate stories into your presentations. We love to hear stories. We love to emotionally connect to those stories. And number three is to have some sort of compelling conclusion.

And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen speakers get to the end, trainers get to the end, goodnight. They just leave. You have to wrap it up. So those three things. How’s that?

(32:50) Doreen Downing:
I guess I make the grade, I was wrapping up with you and making the connection with engagement and how that relates to you.

Good. I can pat myself on the back. Thank you so much. 

(33:03) David Doerrier:
Thank you. Thank you

Also listen on…

7 STEP GUIDE TO FEARLESS SPEAKINGPodcast host, Dr. Doreen Downing, helps people find their voice so they can overcome anxiety, be confident, and speak without fear.

Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speakingdoreen7steps.com.

7 STEP GUIDE TO FEARLESS SPEAKINGPodcast host, Dr. Doreen Downing, helps people find their voice so they can overcome anxiety, be confident, and speak without fear.

Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speakingdoreen7steps.com.