Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in personal and business development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jordyn Benattar Menkes, Owner of Speakwell, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I help professionals supercharge their careers by becoming masterful communicators. While effective communication is one of the most critical and desired elements in leadership, 90% of employees say their leaders lack communication skills. Speakwell is on a mission to close the skills gap and equip people to articulate themselves effectively and confidently own the room.
Speakwell offers private coaching packages, a 10-module program called “Speakwell Accelerator,” and group workshops. Some of our most popular group training experiences include Executive Presence, Persuasive Storytelling, Leading Productive and Engaging Meetings, and Pitching Yourself. Speakwell also has an online course in the works for professionals who want to learn how to speak well on their own time.
The results of Speakwell’s services have transformed people’s work lives and professional trajectories in ways they previously couldn’t imagine. The proof is in the success of my clients, who include TED speakers, scholars, founders, politicians, students, job seekers, leaders in medicine, CEOs of publicly traded companies, universities, judges, and even rabbis.
Tell us about yourself
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for helping people grow. My path to running a communication-focused coaching business was intentional and multifaceted.
Speakwell was born from my observation that people often lose opportunities (such as jobs, admissions to a dream program or school, a pitch, a campaign, a promotion at work, or simply the chance to make a lasting first impression) as a direct result of not knowing how to speak well. As I examined this pattern more critically, I discovered that most people do not have any communication skills training.
It usually isn’t taught in school, and only a small minority have the natural gifts of wordsmithing, gravitas, and charisma. My frustration at seeing high-potential, bright individuals limit their careers and their potential due to the public speaking skill gap sparked the idea of a business that helps people to speak well.
My background as an actress in film and television, my experiences as a competitive persuasive speaker (traveling for years to represent Canada at international public speaking competitions), and my time working at law firms in New York and Toronto, (A) Showed me that the way people communicate could be an absolute game-changer for confidence, leadership, and how others perceive your intelligence. (B) Informed my unique and practical approach to public speaking training.
I ran Speakwell as a side hustle throughout my undergraduate degree, law school, my MBA, and even while working in the legal field. It’s been over a decade since I first established Speakwell and I couldn’t be more fulfilled that this is what I get to do for my career. What motivates me each day is seeing the progress and results of my clients throughout and after our work together. The icing on top is watching how their ability to speak well positively impacts all aspects of their lives, both professionally and personally.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is the accomplishments of my clients. The way that Speakwell’s proven methods, systems, and coaching sessions supercharge their communication skills and unlock their potential is indescribably rewarding to me.
As a result of working with Speakwell, I see people get whatever it is they want: a promotion at work, unshakable confidence when presenting, the ability to command the room in high stakes meetings, knowing how to articulate themselves impressively ‘off the cuff,’ finding greater success at networking events, or merely enjoying (as opposed to dreading) speaking opportunities. Playing a part in these wins is my greatest pride.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The to-do list never ends! While challenging, the ever-evolving needs of the business as it grows is also exciting.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Think like a CEO from day one.
Don’t wait to feel like you’ve ‘made it to start behaving and running your business like a CEO. No matter how big or small your business is, this means being laser-focused on your mission, delegating where you can, and always leading with the big picture in mind. Having this ‘CEO brain’ compass will guide you and your business in the right direction.
- Keep a pulse on what your target customers are dealing with in order to best serve them.
I started running Speakwell full-time in June 2020 (early Covid). My customers’ need to speak well in person shifted to the need to speak well virtually – a foreign concept to many at the time. During that period, I responded by coaching professionals on how to command not only the room but also command the screen. Providing the best service to your customers sometimes means pivoting. Don’t be afraid of it. Stay attuned and embrace it!
- Set boundaries – and stick to them.
Especially at the beginning, it can be difficult to step away from your desk at the end of the day when you know there’s still lots to do. Setting boundaries, blocking off time in your calendar for leisure and making plans for hobbies and social activities outside of work are crucial to avoiding burnout, finding balance, and stimulating creativity. If you allow yourself to work 24/7, you will, which is why it’s so important to have those other non-work commitments in place early on.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Many people have a false understanding of public speaking, assuming that how good at it you are today is fixed. Public speaking is a learnable skill that anyone has the ability to develop. People also assume that there’s only one way to be a great public speaker (like Tony Robbins) a view of public speaking that I do not subscribe to or recommend pursuing. I believe that finding your own authentic speaking style is the key to your success.
I have an open-door policy. Please don’t hesitate to reach out about anything public speaking-related (your struggle with noodle sentences, uptalk, imposture syndrome, lack of brevity – the list goes on) or simply to say hello. I’d love to hear from you.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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