Today, I interview Ted Prodromou who talks about his shy beginnings as an introverted child. He later realized that he had been carrying around years of hurt from being picked on by his siblings. It had really impacted his self-esteem and courage! As adults, his sibling’s later apology brought about the sudden realization of the root cause of his fear.
The good news is that healing can come anytime! It’s not too late! Ted later found himself leading a great team and communicating confidently with the group. He shares the way Speaking Circles changed his life!
Ted Prodromou, America’s Leading LinkedIn Coach, is the award-winning, best-selling author of Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn for Business and Ultimate Guide to Twitter for Business (Entrepreneur Press).
Ted is a social selling and online advertising expert and the founder of Search Marketing Simplified, LLC, a full-service social media marketing firm. Ted has been featured on Entrepreneur.com, New York Times, CNBC, and Forbes.
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Transcript of Interview
Find Your Voice, Change Your Life Podcast
Podcast Host: Dr. Doreen Downing
Free Guide to Fearless Speaking: Doreen7steps.com
Episode #15 Ted Prodromou
“Introverts Have a Voice, Too!”
(00:39) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Hi, this is Dr. Doreen Downing and I’m at the Find Your Voice, Change Your Life podcast with Ted Prodromou. And today, like most days, when I interview people, we’re going to be speaking about anxiety and having not had a voice early on. Usually, it can happen early on. But for some people, it persists for a long, long time before they can really look at themselves and get a sense of what their true voice is. And today we are also going to be talking about Ted’s business as a LinkedIn coach. So first, though, we’re going to venture into what happened early on where he felt he didn’t have a voice, how he found it, and now the miracles that he’s able to do for people in the social online marketing world. So, thank you, Tim, for being here today. And let me introduce you the bio that I’ve got for you. Ted Prodromou, “America’s Leading LinkedIn Coach,” is the award winning, best-selling author of Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn for business, and ultimate guide for Twitter for business. Ted is a social selling and online advertising expert, and the founder of Search Marketing Simplified LLC, a full-service social media marketing firm. And Ted has been featured on entrepreneur.com, New York Times, CNBC, and Forbes. Now let me just give you the link. I’ll be giving it at the end but here it is right now. You can find Ted at WWW.YOURLINKEDINCOACH.COM. So welcome, Ted. Hello.
(2:34) Ted Prodromou:
Thanks for having me.
(2:36) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Oh, absolutely. It’s a joy. I know, you’ve been my LinkedIn coach for quite a while. And I just benefited so much from your wisdom. And I know that you and I got to meet earlier on in another rendition of your finding your voice. But let’s start first with way back when and remembering when you didn’t feel like you had a voice and give us some details about what that was like and what you think the cause was, just start there. Please.
(03:06) Ted Prodromou:
Oh, no pressure, no pressure! Yeah. Oh, growing up I was just an introvert, I was painfully shy, like I hid from people almost. I just, I don’t know what caused it to—actually, I realized that a few years ago what actually caused it, but for 60 years, I kind of hid in the shadows and just didn’t interact with that many people. That’s one of the reasons I went to Speaking Circles. But it turns out when I was really young, my older sister was jealous that I was born. It’s like two sisters that were a year and a half apart. And then there’s a five-year gap and then there was me. So, I got all the attention. So, my middle sister used to always be pushing me down. I didn’t realize this till really, about two or three years ago. And she– every time I would speak, she would push me down and say, “Shut up. Nobody cares what you say.” And that just went on forever. She just was always torturing me mentally, not that much physically, but just, “shut up. You’re an idiot. Shut up.” You know, just demeaning me anytime I’d say anything. So, I just stopped speaking.
(04:17) Dr. Doreen Downing:
That seems like the safest solution for anybody who has some kind of unpleasant harassment, you might say around them is to pull back and what you’re talking about right now I think can happen obviously. Especially maybe in larger families where a lot of siblings are, are competing for attention and for well, bottom line, love. “He, he’s getting more love than me.” You know, and we’re kids, and we don’t, we don’t really know that we’re just acting out of, like you said jealousy. So yeah, and it takes a while. It sounds like– you said you discovered it. How did you put the…how did you put the dots together between losing or not having a voice and this treatment that you had during early years?
(05:15) Ted Prodromou:
It was actually two or three years ago, my sister, middle sister went on a silent retreat. It was a seven day silent retreat. And she came back from it. And she says her big revelation of not speaking for seven days with it. When I was two years old, she pushed me down the stairs, a whole flight of stairs.
(05:34) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Well, you probably don’t have a memory since you were two years old of being pushed down the stairs. But you might, as you’ve been sharing with us today, have a memory that it was, it was an unpleasant situation with the next sister.
(05:55) Ted Prodromou:
I actually do remember it.
(5:57) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Oh you do!?
(5:59) Ted Prodromou:
I have this scar right here, I fell down a whole flight of stairs into our basement and I fell on a plastic trumpet. And I remember that, and I remember my sister saying, “you, you faker, you faker, you can’t be hurt.” It was like a whole flight of stairs.
(06:13) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Oh, my. And meanwhile, your eyes… You’re dripping with blood and you’re, you’re being accused that you’re faking it. Do you remember what your parents might—how they reacted?
(06:28) Ted Prodromou:
I remember my mother coming down the stairs. And my both my older sisters, anytime I get hurt, they say “Oh you faker, oh you faker.” That’s all I remember of it at the time. But it was her going to that silent retreat. And I was probably 60 years old when she came back from that. And she actually apologized to me.
(06:52) Dr. Doreen Downing:
And it sounds like you never really put that together and put that with your own speaking ability that you held yourself back because of her presence and her treatment of you.
(07:04) Ted Prodromou:
Yeah, because I just thought I fell down the stairs. I don’t remember her pushing me down the stairs. She was there. But she said, “yeah, I pushed you down the stairs on purpose.”
(7:10) Dr. Doreen Downing:
That’s, that’s, that’s amazing. And also the reason why I feel like it is so important for other people today to listen is that we– the healing can come any time. You know, here you are way down the road and didn’t ever really connect that dot to– you just thought perhaps you were introverted. And, and so you prefer to hold yourself back. And that’s fine. But in our work, or at least in the work that I’ve done with people, introverts have a voice, too.
(7:54) Ted Prodromou
(7:56) Dr. Doreen Downing:
And I know that from my own experience, having chosen psychology is a place where all I have to do is speak to one person at a time. And so, that’s my own history, but back to yours. And anything else about those early years, because you had to go on to school, you had to go into high school and enter the business world. How does that affect you growing up?
(08:23) Ted Prodromou:
Well, my parents owned a restaurant. And we always had to work in the restaurant from the time I was like 10. So, my father basically had—we worked the front and the back. We spent a lot of time cooking in the kitchen, which is great. They made everything from scratch. But when I worked out front and cashier or serving people, I had to interact with people. I didn’t mind that because it was more like a one-on-one conversation. But thinking about getting up and speaking in front of an audience? I remember in honor society like ninth grade or something, I had to give the speech in front of the whole class, the whole school. And I just was terrified. I got through it. I don’t really remember if I made any sense or not. But it was just terrifying to get up in front of a group and speak.
(09:09) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Yeah, even that word, “terrifying.” I’m sure people listening might go, “Yeah, I know what terrifying feels like.” Is that probably I would imagine it’s the heart racing. What other symptoms would you call “terrified” that happen in your body?
(09:26) Ted Prodromou:
Um, I just remember being very nervous. And people saying, “Oh, you did a great job” afterwards. Um, don’t remember much about what I said or what the topic was. But people encouraged me and afterwards and said I did a good job, so…
(09:43) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Yeah, that’s the other thing I think you’re saying that is that we are our own judges. And we because of our nervousness, feel like we haven’t done a very good job when in fact, maybe we have. We just weren’t sitting out in the front row, or even the back row observing ourselves, we were right in the middle of our bodies feeling really bad and not feeling like we were at ease. So that’s, I think that’s another message I like to send out is that the way that we evaluate ourselves may be tougher than our audience is evaluating us?
(10:22) Ted Prodromou:
Definitely. Yeah, my first job out of college was fixing computers. So, I had to go to customer sites, and interact with people all day long. And I didn’t– I liked that actually, I like interacting with people on a small basis, one to one or small groups.
(10:38) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Well, plus you had a skill. You were, they had a need, and you could fill the need. So, you, you were serving people, and it wasn’t like you were performing, because you were doing what you were skilled at is fixing things for people.
(10:55) Ted Prodromou:
(10:56) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Any other memories kind of moving out into the world of work, where you felt like, “Oh, I’m going to hold myself back from speaking up.”
(11:06) Ted Prodromou:
No, that was the big– actually, I got to a point, I was managing about 30 people. When I worked at Cellular One, it started out there’s two of us in the IT department. And then within seven years, I had like, I think it was 25 or 30 employees reporting directly to me. And I just loved managing all those people. We had a great team, we all worked really well together. I really enjoyed that a lot. I had no trouble communicating with them.
(11:33) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Again, that’s one to one, it’s relational. And probably that’s, that’s probably one of your skills is being somebody who’s easy to relate to. And it’s just like, okay, let’s let’s get you up on a stage all by yourself with some kind of content, and those deeper kind of wires are being activated like no, no, no. Not only the natural introvert but also some of the earlier roots to the anxiety that you’ve pulled out today and shared with us. Moving then now to knowing that it’s difficult for you to have all eyes on you to step into a spotlight, what did you do to face that and work through that?
(12:24) Ted Prodromou:
That’s when I came across Speaking Circles. It was around 2000, 2001 timeframe. And my IT career blew up with the dot com crash. So, I became a coach, and everybody said to get speaking engagements, that’s the best way to get clients as a coach, there is thinking that ninth grade speaking in front of the whole school, terrified, start sweating. But Speaking Circles was so amazing. I went probably for three years I went to Speaking Circles. Whenever they had them and were in here. And it was just life changing.
(12:59) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Well, I know much about Speaking Circles. I’m still Training Director of that program. So, I designed the programs that you stepped into. And, can you talk– I can obviously explain it a little bit, but I’d like to hear how from your point of view, what was life changing? What happens in a speaking circle?
(13:21) Ted Prodromou:
Well, I was thinking at first going to Toastmasters and everybody said you prepare a prepared speech and you have to go up there, then they critique you. And I’m thinking “oh my god, it’s going to be just like that ninth-grade experience.” The Speaking Circles is a safe environment, where you just– they teach you to make connections, eye contact with each person. And it was a small group of eight to 10 people usually. And you just spend time connecting with people. And then words just started coming out of your mouth. You’re waiting your turn, you’re nervous, thinking about what you’re going to talk about. But when you really connect with people on that level, just these amazing things come out of you. But where did this come from? I’d watch the tapes afterwards. They’re back on the VHS days. And you’d watch it. Wow, that was just amazing. I have no idea where that content came from. But it was fabulous. And then people don’t criticize you or give you feedback afterwards, it’s more about how they felt by watching you speak. So, it’s a very safe environment.
(14:21) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Yes. And the reason why it’s safe in these groups that I create is that the listening you– I train the listeners to be gentle, kind, looking for the strengths in somebody. So, it’s the whole idea now, especially in corporations where they’re talking about “focus on the good stuff.” People grow faster and it’s– you have so much more benefit if the person if you can find the good inside of them. And so, in Speaking Circles what I call it is “essence appreciation.” There’s an essence to everybody that is bright and strong. And when you stand up on a stage and you’re speaking, that’s what radiates out anyway, yeah, your content. And it’s good to be prepared, of course, and Toastmasters is good about preparing. But I think that what you’re talking about is an inner training, where you learn to be present, in the moment, connected to a core that the words flowed from there, the easily came up.
(15:30) Ted Prodromou:
It’s like an out of body experience, in a way. It’s just this energy that you feel in the room, when everybody is speaking, it’s their turn. It’s like a heart-to-heart connection with everybody. Right. And so, start by taking the deep breath, and you just kind of settle into it. I remember one time, right after Bill Clinton left office, I saw him speak at one of those big events in South San Francisco. And he got up on stage, there’s probably 1000 people in the audience. And he just looked at the audience that can speak and find your eyes, make connection with people, I take a deep breath. And he did that. He didn’t speak for about 30 seconds, he was just kind of connecting with the audience. And then it was like, when he started talking, it was like, we’d known him our whole life, he was our best friend, it was amazing.
(16:16) Dr. Doreen Downing:
That’s a perfect description of what’s possible for individuals, if they can find a way to connect to their, their inner strength, their core being and yes, it it takes a little bit of training to discover and find within and go through the blocks and the doubts and what you carry in your mind. But it’s so good to hear you describe it in such a beautiful, miraculous way. Well, then, moving on, you still are a coach, for sure. And I know because I’ve benefited a couple years of your coaching. What are your LinkedIn coach, specifically, social media, tell people now what you provide using your voice? I mean, you’re out there a lot. You’re in podcast, you’re here today with me, you’re leading your own, I think, podcasts yourself. So, tell us what you’re doing nowadays, and how your voice is showing up?
(17:25) Ted Prodromou:
Well, I never dreamed I’d be an author or a speaker. And I’ve written like five books. And I speak literally all over the world. I’ve speaking in Europe. And supposed to go back to Poland this year, actually to speak at the end of the year. And I have some speaking engagements. Coming back, we’re all coming back to life. But I never dreamed I’d be a speaker or an author. And that’s the—with the LinkedIn approach, I teach people to be themselves on LinkedIn. It’s a, it’s a networking site, one to one conversations with people. You know, it was a one to many and one to one, one to many, you run ads and you reach a broad audience. But with LinkedIn, you need to connect with people that Speaking Circles connections, I kind of imagine if I was sitting with that person having a cup of coffee, when I’m chatting with them on LinkedIn, instead of “buy from me, buy from me,” it’s more like, “Hey, tell me more about your business? or How did you get started? Where did you go to school” or whatever, to start casual conversations. And you build those relationships. And a lot of people say it takes too long to build relationships like that, I have to make sales like if you take some time, build relationships, you get long term customers who refer great clients to you.
(18:37) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Yeah, I think what you just said around the referring clients to you later on, because it’s not all about sell, sell, sell. It’s about people knowing you in such a way that they say hey, you know, I know somebody who you know, like with you, you’d say, “Hey, I know somebody who can help you with overcoming stage fright.” And with me, I can say, “Hey, I know somebody (which I do quite a bit) who knows LinkedIn marketing and social media.” You you say that you, you now speak all around the world. Yay! And you have your message what would you say your message is? I know you just pretty much spoke it a second ago about one to one on LinkedIn, but in a broader way. What do you feel you’re bringing to this world? Maybe your purpose?
(19:32) Ted Prodromou:
To connect with people and people just think I’m a very friendly approachable person because I’m pretty low key, I’m not a loud person. I’m not animated. I have people say I’m really grounded, I went through leadership training. They talked about our different soul types and I’m very grounded. People feel very comfortable around me. When I’ve had all those employees working for me. They said, “God, I can come to you with any kind of problem” and I would just sit there and they say “I’m having trouble with this” or blah, blah, blah, and they go out and vent. And I hardly say anything. They go, “thank you.” And they would leave and go solve the problem. Yeah, I’m just a calm presence around people. I try to project that into my LinkedIn.
(20:17) Dr. Doreen Downing:
And that calm presence, I think, is what we’re talking about, is knowing that you can speak from a calm presence and that you don’t have to be anything other than who you truly are. And if you believe in your own ability to be calm, present, I mean, nervousness always shows up here and there. But it’s like, being calm and being present is deeper inside of us. And it’s more grounding, and it helps take you into many arenas, which I know you’ve been into many arenas. So, in terms of what you might want to leave the listeners with today, what is maybe a final word or two about yourself what you want people to take away from you about speaking.
(21:08) Ted Prodromou:
Yeah, one thing I learned is Speaking Circles and going through all the coaching certifications. You learned to speak from your heart, rather than your head. And people think that’s too wishy washy for business. But when you focus on that, you just connect at a deeper level with people. It’s just, I’ve been doing it for so long. I think I’ve been going all my life, actually. But that really made me aware of speak from your heart and really listen to other people. You don’t have to keep talking. Let them, you know, ask questions, be curious. And just let them talk. And they think, “oh you’re the greatest person in the world.”
(21:45) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Well, you are Ted, you’re one of them.
(21:48) Ted Prodromou:
Thanks, you too.
(21:51) Dr. Doreen Downing:
Thank you very much for being here. So to find you, I’m going to say WWW.YOURLINKEDINCOACH.COM and your books, The Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn for Business Ultimate Guide to Twitter for business, you can, and Ted Prodromou P-R-O-D-R-O-M-O-U. Ted Prodromou. So hopefully, you’ll be able to find him easily. He’s there and he’s obviously there to listen to you and to support you and you’ll find great value I know. Thank you again, for being here today.
(22:33) Ted Prodromou:
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Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: https://www.doreen7steps.com.
Get started now on your journey to your authentic voice by downloading my Free 7 Step Guide to Fearless Speaking: https://www.doreen7steps.com.