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How to Deal with What’s Holding You Back with Luke Menkes

Do you struggle with impostor syndrome? Have you somehow lost the confidence you once had? If so, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with these, including my guest, Luke Menkes. Luke is an experienced public speaker who had to learn how to get over tremendous stage fright, introversion, and shyness to be able to excel in running his very successful and growing podcast New Town Big Dreams. He’s a living, positive example of what you can accomplish with persistence, a few simple techniques, and the right strategy.

 

Takeaways

  • How to deal with impostor syndrome
  • Managing the fear of public speaking
  • How to develop a positive mindset

 

Resources

NewTownBigDreams.buzzsprout.com

 

Podcast Transcript

 

Peter
Do you struggle with imposter syndrome? Have you somehow lost the confidence you once had? If so, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with these including my guest, Luke Menkes. Luke is an experienced public speaker who had to learn how to get over tremendous stage fright, introversion, and shyness to be able to excel at running his very successful new town big dreams podcast. Luke is a living positive example of what you can accomplish with persistence, a few simple techniques and the right strategy. Here’s my conversation with Luke Menkes. Thanks for joining us, Luke. It’s great to have you here.

 

Luke
It’s great to be here. Thanks so much.

 

Peter
Luke, we all have a story about our most terrifying time when it comes to public speaking, what’s yours?

 

Luke
So I dropped out of high school, I was 16. And I wanted to go to university. So when I was 21, I applied as mature students, and the university York University in Toronto who said, Well, you’ve got some good work experience, but your high school grades are so terrible. You can forget it. Like they basically rejected me. So I filed an appeal, there was a way to file an appeal. And I was already a really good writer at this point. So I drafted an appeal filed it. And they said, Okay, we will let you in the university. But you’ve got to go back to high school, like actual teenager High School. I was 21 years old. They said I had to take three courses, one of them had to be English. And I had to get a 75% average, which I guess is a BB plus. And so one of them was English. And my English teacher said that if I did not do an oral presentation, she would fail me, I would not be going to university. And I hated her. Like I was so angry about that. And I tried to bribe her. I tried to negotiate. And I said, let me do extra essays. I’ll write three essays for essays. She’s like, “No, if you don’t get up in front of this class and give a 20 minute presentation, you are not going to university.” So I had to and was terrible. I mean, I was so nervous, I could barely speak. And I resented it for years, and I wish I could find her and go back and tell her this was a long time ago. But she actually changed my life. Because I realized, if you want something bad enough, you know, you’re gonna do whatever it takes, right? So at the time, I was angry, but she really made me realize, like, I could speak in front of people, I wouldn’t die. I didn’t do a good job of it, but I didn’t die. So it taught me that I really could do it.

 

Peter
You like most people had to deal with that fear speaking, which we all know, is very pervasive. How’d you finally overcome it?

 

Luke
So I became a salesman. And so I’ve always struggled with this. So what I did was, I said, you know, to be successful, I’m gonna have to get past this. I may not cure stage fright completely. But I have to be able to respond when the situation calls for it. And so I started taking Toastmasters. And I started just pushing myself a little bit like if I have a client, and they’re kind of 5050 between text messages, and phone calls, I would push myself to make that call. And just try to be conscious of it. If it’s a little bit uncomfortable, then I will put myself in that situation. And it’s kind of like a muscle. The more I do it, the easier it becomes. So taking courses again, when I started with Toastmasters, I was terrified. And now it’s much better. It’s just like a general nervousness. Once I get warmed up, it’s totally fine. But it’s like a muscle. It’s something that I’ve constantly had to exercise without. Without doing at. It’s a setback. Finally speak to me been for a week or so, which I’ve done many times, it’s much harder to get into the flow. So it’s like a daily thing, I have to talk to someone, make a video, do something every single day.

 

Peter
That’s great advice. And when you refer to it like a muscle and strengthening that muscle, you can’t do bicep curls today, and do them again, six weeks from now and expect anything too good to come from it.

 

Luke
Totally true. It’s, it’s more difficult. It’s going to be more painful, the longer you spread that out. And it doesn’t need to be like a huge workout every single day. But I try to have a conversation face to face or video with somebody every single day.

 

Peter
You talk briefly in there about setbacks? What other setbacks did you have in regards to your confidence? And how did you overcome those?

 

Luke
So I had a huge setback around 2010. So in 2005, I actually kind of radio job, which surprised me. But long story short, my two best friends were on this morning show. And they had to fire somebody to third person. And they put the call out, they said anybody wants to come on this show, come and try out with us. So I went. And it was interesting. We had a great sense of humor, we clicked because we’re best friends. I was super nervous at the start. But after a week, I said, this is so much fun. I want to have my own radio show. And they said, Well, you don’t have any experience. You don’t need training, you can’t do that. And I said, No, I really want to have my own radio show. So four months later, the boss calls in to his office. And he says, Luke, are you practicing the radio calls in the shower? And I said, Yeah, in fact, I am. He said, Are you practicing when you’re in your car? And I said, Yes, I am. And he said, Well, you’ve got the most improved voice on this station. And Billy has to move back to Canada for family reasons. Would you like to take his lunchtime slot? And I was like, Yeah, that was amazing. So I did that for a year, I moved back to Canada, because I had a daughter. And so I had to give up the radio show. I started podcasting. In 2010. Um, I was going through some real financial troubles. And I was dating a woman, and we had a, I had a chance to be on the radio with her. She was a radio host, here in Canada. And she was pretty, pretty rough on me. She said, You’re not funny, like, commercial break, she criticized me very, very harshly. And then I went into a financial situation. So it took me, I don’t know, five, six years to get over that setback completely. That really took a hit on my self-esteem. She was so critical and so harsh. It took me I would say, five, six years to get my full confidence back. That was a huge setback. But I just started from the beginning. I just started taking courses. And I started pushing myself a little bit to have those daily conversations again,

 

Peter
right back to starting to exercise. And obviously, it took a long time for you five years, quite a bit of time. But you got back by exercising what you needed to do. You got back to where you wanted it to be. Exactly. Many people don’t know if you dealt with this, but many people struggle with imposter syndrome. Why is the type of public speaking you do important for the people who deal with this?

 

Luke
That’s something I’ve struggled with for a long time. And what I noticed was if somebody asked me a certain question, I forget about my nerves, and I just light up. And I’m not nervous, right. So I think it’s really important to talk about topics that you’re not eligible on, but also that you really enjoy. I think that’s the key to kind of forgetting your nerves and what are people gonna think of me? Because you’re totally focused on the compensation. So I noticed when I when I started this podcast in 2018, I started as a monologue, and I would talk about real estate. And I’m an expert in real estate, but I always felt like people are smarter than me. People have better shows than I do. But I found that if I’m interviewing people, I’m not nervous at all. I really like asking people questions. And one of the favorite things about my podcast is people often say, Look, that’s a really great question. Or nobody’s ever asked it quite that way before. And so for whatever reason, I am super comfortable asking questions, do we an interview-style podcast, I don’t have that imposter syndrome, for whatever reason when I’m doing that. So it took me many years trying different formats, trying different topics. And certain topics. I just, I love the topic, but I’m also totally into it, where I can forget about myself, forget about my nerves. So I think it could take a little practice and trying different things, but you’ll know it when you hit it.

 

Peter
And here we have you today on the other side of the mic, you’re saying you’re most comfortable when asking the questions. Yeah. And I have you answering the questions today. And I really appreciate that.

 

Luke
Thank you.

 

Peter
Look, you speak about having a mental diet. Why is this so important to you.

 

Luke
So when I was going through tough times a decade ago, up to, you know, four or five years ago, and I have to be clear, it wasn’t like terrible for half a decade, it would just took me I would say five years to fully recover my confidence, my finances. So each day got a little bit better. But we always have setbacks. And I like to compare it to like mountain climbing, many times you have to go down before you go back up. Like you don’t go up in a straight line, you do have to retreat a little bit and come around. So I noticed that good days versus bad days really had a lot to do with what I was listening to what I was consuming. And I think everybody kind of knows this, like, if you’re listening to sad songs all the time, you’re going to get to press right. If you’re watching, if you’re been binge watching Jerry Seinfeld, you’re going to be a little more sarcastic. Right, you’re going to find humor, no ordinary things. So it definitely affects our brain, whatever, we’re watching whatever we’re listening to. And I really believe that mental diet is the most important diet there is. Because if we’re consuming content, we’re gonna make better choices about the food that we eat. Right? Read better self esteem, more confidence. So I really think every day needs to start with what am I consuming today? Is it all news? Is it all negativity? And then you wonder why you’re depressed? You know, you’re wondering why you’re skeptical or nervous about the economy and things like that. So I don’t quite know how to put it, but the more you focus on things that you enjoy, but also things that are beneficial. So similar to food, right? Our parents used to tell us, you know, eat your vegetables, eat your broccoli, we may not like that. But it was good for us. So as adults, I think we have to choose things that we enjoy. It’s really important. But also that’s beneficial. So it has to be those two things combined. Otherwise you won’t sustain it. You know, I like to call it like mental junk food. So a lot of my family, they watch the sitcoms, and they’re fine. There’s nothing wrong with them. But it’s like mental junk food. I see a lethargy and inability to focus on serious things lack the ambition to meet that’s the results. It’s like eating a bag of Doritos. It won’t kill you. It’s not gonna give you a heart attack one bag. It’s the habit of what we’re consuming, that really makes a difference in everything else.

 

Peter
What are you doing now with regards to public speaking?

 

Luke
The main thing is the podcast. And so I’m doing about four or five interviews a week. And the little twist of my jokes. I was trying to think, well, there’s hundreds of entrepreneur shows out there, and I love them. But how would I stand out? So when I started in 2018, people would come to this desk here, and it was local businesses. So I was interviewing local businesses. And I found that 95% of my guests had moved here from somewhere else. And I had moved here from somewhere else. So I’d started every episode with tell us how you got to Kelowna, which is the name of our town. And there were some amazing stories like one example. Person’s wife how they were in severe car accident. The wife was very seriously injured, was in the hospital here for two months. They were just driving through. They were going from Calgary to Vancouver. They figured they stop here for lunch. had a terrible accident just outside the city. So they were stuck here, three kids and a wife. For two months, they rented a place and they fell in love with the city. And as the wife recovered in the hospital, they were talking about it. And they said, why don’t we move the family here. And that’s what happened. So other people came for business or for romantic reasons. And I thought, that’s really, that really makes a person more interesting when we know about their big move, you know. And so I decided, well, I’ll expand past this city now that we have to do zoom calls, I can’t, couldn’t really have people come over. So there’s no restriction on where the persons are located. So I thought, I’m going to start every episode like that. Tell us how you got to Chicago. Tell us what age you decide to move to Chicago 10 years ago. And I love listening to that story. So to ask that question, super easy, no imposter syndrome. I moved 10 times lived in four different countries. So it’s a topic I’m in love with. And I don’t feel any nervousness asking you, How did you get to Rhode Island? Tell us that story. It’s entrepreneurs. For the most part. It’s business people, salespeople. But that’s how every show starts.

 

Peter
I’ve listened to it. It’s a great podcast. So I suggest if people are interested in that type of topic, they go, Listen, it’s an excellent podcast. Thank you. Luke, what final tidbit of advice do you have for those speakers who they took a confidence hit? Whether they’re just starting out with public speaking, or have been doing it for a while, and for one reason or another, have lost that confidence? What would you suggest for them to come back and build that up?

 

Luke
The thing that helped me the most was that mental diet. So when I was nervous about public speaking, I would listen to people like Les Brown, who had stories of being completely broke, and also terrified of public speaking, you wouldn’t believe it listening to him talk today. But his stories are so inspirational. And I would say, find people you resonate with who have been through something similar, and be persistent. So like an exercise routine. Some days you don’t feel like going to the gym. But if you’re committed, you’re going to go. And if you’re feeling like on a scale of one to 10, one is I will never go to that gym again. 10 is I can’t wait to get there. If you’re three or four. Your goal should be to get to a four thought. You don’t have to go from a three to attend. Just increase your motivation, just a tiny bit, you’re shifting the direction. And to me, I do that through the mental diet. I literally get up and I decide what am I going to watch today? What am I going to listen to today? And it’s completely changed my life in every respect.

 

Peter
Where can I listeners connect with you?

 

Luke
NewTownBigDreams.buzzsprout.com is the website. For the podcast. My contact info is there too. You can find me on LinkedIn or Facebook or Instagram. I’m everywhere. But if you just type in New Town, Big Dreams podcast, you’ll find me.

 

Peter
Luke, thanks so much for being with us today. It was a pleasure to have you and I wish you the best of luck, ongoing.

 

Luke
Thank you, Peter. It’s been a real pleasure.

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