Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hey there! I’m Tricia Brouk, an award-winning director, producer, author, and founder of The Big Talk Academy, a speaker, and thought leadership incubator. I support professionals who want to amplify and elevate their voices to become effective communicators and media luminaries.
My products include The Big Talk Academy, my virtual signature speaker and thought leadership certification program, where speakers land on their big idea, write, perform and pitch their big talk. The Speaker Salon in New York City is a live speaker intensive, where speakers get up on stage every week and then perform live at the end in a showcase.
And I do work 1:1 with high-level professionals on building out their speaker platforms which also includes massive visibility and deep transformational work. Being a dancer taught me how to build this 7 figure company in less than 3 years. Grit, determination, discipline, and massive risk tolerance are how I went from absolutely zero online presence or credibility to having ten team members and a 7-figure company.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I’ve always been an entrepreneur. I moved to New York City to pursue a career in dance. I have never ascribed to the mindset of being a starving artist. And because of that, I started a fitness company, so that when I was on tour dancing all over the world pursuing my dream, my trainers would be training my clients and I was making money in two places at once. I was doing my thing working in film, tv, and theater, and out of the blue, a friend, who was a fan of my work asked me to direct a talk she was giving.
I learned that the exponential growth of my creativity and what I wanted to accomplish, needed a team. I was trying to run the company, manage launches, and market all alone.
I approached it just like a one-woman show. We worked on script analysis, choreography, blocking, intention and performance. It was super fun and I didn’t think anything else about it. She planted the seed. “You should do this.” In my mind, I thought, “Do what?” I had no idea there was a market for speaker coaches or that I could create an online business. The fitness company was in person. I didn’t have a clue about funnels, marketing, lists, or opt-ins. None of it.
Back to being a dancer…if you want to land a triple pirouette cleanly, you have to rehearse. You have to show up every single day, break in new pointe shoes often, warm up, get up when you fall, and keep trying with no fear. That’s what I did. I immersed myself in the world of online marketing, started a podcast to gain credibility, hired a business coach, and started investing in the company. The Big Talk has zero, and right away I spent three thousand dollars on a coach. They took me to the next level, then I upgraded what I invested in the next mentor. And so on and so on.
In 2018, I invested $80,000 in a business mentor and high-performance coach. That was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. And within 3 months, I made the exact amount of the investment. This is what I mean by risk-tolerant. You have to invest to grow, personally and professionally. The Speaker Salon was a great example of instant validation when it comes to an offering. I posted on Facebook a casual, “Is anyone interested in coming to The Triad Theater on 72nd street in NYC for a salon, where you get on stage every week and work on your talks?
Over 200 people responded yes in the comments. I charged $497 for 8 weeks of live training culminating in a live showcase. At the end of that I raised the investment to $10K and told the 15 participants, I’d give them a 50% discount. They all invested $5K on the spot. Literally. The Speaker Salon is now $30K.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
When I realized that not everyone can come to NYC to work with me, although you can zoom in now as long as you are live at the showcase, I decided I wanted to create a virtual live and global group program. Working with me 1:1 is $120K for the year and as mentioned, the Speaker Salon is $30K, so I also wanted to create a more digestible price point for people.
The Big Talk Academy is $4997. I copyrighted the art of idea mining, crafting content, and performance techniques into a process called The Art of The Big Talk. And this is what the participants learn inside of The Big Talk Academy. I also wanted everyone who goes through the program to succeed and not have the program sitting on their desktop with all the other online courses. I offer two group calls with me inside of the 12-week program. And at the end, you get certified in this process and listed on The Big Talk Speakers Directory. I’ve produced a lot of shows and know how important the arc and through-line are for the audience experience. I applied the same creativity in designing this program. And I also hired a course creator to help me, which was super important.
The most difficult part of this program was the speaker directory. Who knew coding a website that gave speakers access to updating their information anytime they wanted would be so time-consuming, and buggy. That process took more than a year. Our first cohort of speakers waited almost a year before we could showcase them.
Describe the process of launching the business.
When I first launched The Big Talk Academy, I was coached to have a webinar. I don’t even remember what it was called or what I was teaching. I didn’t know how to run tech and had no idea how to deal with slides or how to promote them. Needless to say, my online course creator came on to help me run slides and nobody else showed up. After ten minutes, of waiting for anyone else to show up, I left deflated and confused. To be clear, course creators are not marketers. How would I know that?
And the other lesson I learned was that the exponential growth of my creativity and what I wanted to accomplish, needed a team. I was trying to run the company, manage launches, and market all alone. The first team member I hired was to run our mail system and course portals. She did all that beautifully, but when it was time to launch and I was asking for her to do things the day of, I’ll never forget this, she said, “I’m so sorry, I’m unable to support you at the last minute. Next time, may I suggest you hire a project manager”. How kind is that? She is still with me and I’m so grateful to her.
The real sales strategy that we implemented is a two-day virtual live masterclass. Because I overdeliver, after receiving tons of value for only $47, they feel confident we are the right fit to move forward.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
We attract clients through referrals, organic social media, Facebook, and Google ads. I run a two-day masterclass where I teach everything you need to know about how to step onto big stages. And I give live coaching sessions during these two days. The investment is $47 for 12 hours of content. We run ads for this offering as well as an email marketing campaign for my list.
I have tried affiliate marketing more than once and have spent thousands of dollars with little success. I know affiliate marketing can work, and it’s super important you have the right affiliate marketing launch manager. They have to be aligned with your values and truly believe in what you are offering. It can’t just be about dollars.
Because I share so much value inside of these two days, not only has cold traffic into my community converted clients into The Big Talk Academy but people new to me are ready to invest in six-figure 1:1 coaching right away. This is because I am serving wholeheartedly. When you are in alignment and integrity with your offering, you will organically grow.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
To fully serve, we want to scale The Big Talk Academy to $3M in the next two years. Having 100-150 in each cohort twice a year is how we are going to not only grow the company but also cultivate more effective, dignified, and powerful speakers.
We have an incredible team and company culture and are primed for expansion. I cannot emphasize enough that building a team is the only way you can scale. We plan to continue offering The Big Talk Academy twice a year along with a new offering, the self-study version. Speakers who want to invest in crafting a Keynote without the group coaching can go through the process of the art of the big talk, on their own time and have the same results, a fully realized big talk so they can start promoting themselves to meeting planners and decision-makers.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
During the height of uncertainty in March of 2020, I was scheduled to launch The Big Talk Academy. Selling at that moment in time felt out of alignment, so I offered the opportunity to apply for a full scholarship. Forty people applied, and forty people received full scholarships. Being able to give these speakers a place to be every day for three months and a platform to share their stories was more than a gift for them. It was a gift to me.
Seeing their transformations from uncertain and full of fear to becoming confident day after day, week after week, month after month to finally showcasing them at the Virtual Showcase as fully realized, bold, and powerful speakers were something I will treasure for the rest of my life.
This may not sound like a traditional sales strategy, but what I found worked for this company was showing up consistently and authentically. I never waffled on different versions of who I am or what I do. I always show up the same. This steadfast character trait built our reputation as one of the best in the business and has allowed our audience and community to organically align with our values, purpose, and mission.
The real sales strategy that we implemented is a two-day virtual live masterclass where I teach, from 10-4 pm for two days, every single thing you need to know to step into the red circle. I give you every detail of the what, the why, and the how, so that anyone who joins The Art of The Big Talk Masterclasscan land their big stage. Because I overdeliver, they trust that getting on a call with us to talk about how to go deeper with us is the right next step. And it goes back to being of service. Because they have spent two days with us receiving tons of value for only $47, they feel confident we are the right fit to move forward.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We use Slack, Clickup, Active Campaign, MemberVault, Voxer, Zapier, Thrivecart, Planoly, and Canva. Being organized as a team is how we stay efficient and can accomplish so much productivity. I’m a highly productive person and I want the same level of productivity for my team and company.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
- The Law of Attraction by Esther and Jerry Hicks
- Change Your Thoughts Change Your Life by Dr. Wayne Dyer
- The Life Coach School podcast with Brooke Castillo
- The Successful Mind Podcast with David Neagle
- The Way Out Is In Zen and The Art of Living Podcast
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
I always say, “No means not yet” and “Keep the story moving.” Hearing “no” my entire career as a dancer taught me that grit and fearlessness are daily activities. I’m never afraid of failure because if I can’t get through a door, I’ll build my own. And if you are going to spend one second of this precious life wallowing in the past or what went wrong, how are you going to get it all done? This doesn’t mean not allowing for the mourning period of any kind of loss, personal or professional; it does mean getting on with it. I always keep the story moving.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
Get our 5-minute email newsletter packed with business ideas and money-making opportunities, backed by real-life case studies.