Susan Hyatt (00:00):
Is there something you wish you had the nerve to do? Welcome to, you've Got Nerve, the podcast that teaches you how to conquer your fears, upgrade your mindset, and get up the nerve to go after whatever you want. If you wish you had the guts to go all in on your goals, dreams, and desires, this show is for you. I'm master certified life coach Susan Hyatt, and I am so excited for you to join me on this journey.
Oh, hey, in today's episode, I've got Samara Bay with me. Samara's, the author of the 2023 Penguin Random House bestseller, permission to Speak, how to change what power sounds like Starting with You. Behind the scenes, she coaches everyone from Hollywood celebrities to rising leaders in business and politics and high school girls ready to claim a new kind of leadership. She speaks around the world on the New Sound of Power, a question, everything unlearning about what speaking in public is all about, namely, less fear, more love. Samara is passionate about helping people to be as weird as they actually are. Yay, this was the perfect time to have Samara on the show, as I recently had one of these prickly moments, a delightful DMM on Instagram telling me how cringe I am Samara's all about one thing, grabbing that microphone, strutting our stuff and amplifying our voice.
Who caress. If it sounds more like a quirky kazoo than a golden voice diva, the point isn't to sound like everyone else, it's to sound like you. So Samara is here to remind us that critics are just background noise and while they're turning down their volume to blend in, we should be cranking hours up to stand out. So you know this episode's good because my feet got sweaty. I'm sweaty right now recording this intro in this life shifting conversation. Samara and I discuss why viral moments are all about not hiding, determining what version of yourself feels free, the antidote to judging yourself, what to do if you hate the sound of your voice, the things we've accidentally absorbed and taken in as fact. And so much more to everybody listening today. Next time someone says You're too much of anything, remember in a vast universe and there's room for all the stars, especially the ones that shine a little differently. Here's Samara. Welcome to the podcast Samara Bay.
Samara Bay (02:49):
Why thank you. Very pleased to be
Susan Hyatt (02:50):
Here. Now listen, you are the author of Permission to Speak, and as soon as I saw this book cover and this book title, I was like hot damn. Now it's been out for six months. So I am delighted that we are finally having you on the show because this whole show is about getting up the nerve to do certain things, and one of the biggest things people are trying to get up the nerve to do is speak from the stage or speak their truth or speak up or say the truth. And that's what your entire book is about.
Samara Bay (03:26):
Yeah, yeah. It's everything you said, and then it's also the deeper pre thoughts that we have when it comes to that. It's not just like, do I say the thing or don't I say the thing? It's like, what are my old likely outdated, but boy are they in there Stories around literally how I sound. So many people have stuff around hating the sound of their voice, but also these much more existential questions around, do I deserve to be here? Are my ideas good enough? And this sense of permission, the cover of the book has the word permission like six times, I
Susan Hyatt (04:03):
Believe. Right, right, right.
Samara Bay (04:04):
It's really like the speaking part. I have a background in, I can always talk about the minutiae of the literal speech, but it doesn't really matter if we're not talking about what it actually feels like. This sense of permission to be as weird as we actually are with the lived experience we actually have, and let that come out in this voice of ours.
Susan Hyatt (04:27):
Okay. I love that you just said to be as weird as we actually are, because I posted something recently about, someone said something on one of my reels, or they might've DMed me to tell me how cringe I am. I was sort of like, yes, and lean into the cringe because I think that's where the good stuff is. When we're so afraid to be our weird selves, that's when we mute our own voice.
Samara Bay (04:59):
Well, and I think inside that word cringe. Listen, we can all interpret it how we will, but it's probably also an element of sincerity.
We all know that it is way easier to seem slash be cynical, sarcastic. Some of that is just our sense of humor. Nothing wrong with it, but some of it is a learned way of hiding what makes us vulnerable, which is how to talk about what actually matters to us. It matters to us. Not talk about what matters to us, but be like, but I mean whatever, which is totally a defense mechanism, completely understandable. But that is where a lot of us live. And then we have these opportunities to speak into a microphone, to speak on a stage, to pitch our idea to a room full of people who actually have the money to fund it. And we have to go, how is that history of hiding how much I care about this thing going? How's that going?
Susan Hyatt (05:55):
How's it going
Samara Bay (05:56):
To work out?
Susan Hyatt (05:57):
Hey, how's that working out for me?
Samara Bay (06:00):
Listen, we all know, zooming way out for a second, we can probably all think of somebody who we love listening to, whether it's our favorite podcast or Susan Hyatt, a Ted Talk or a politician, an activist artist, when the big award shows come along every year and which ones pop, then the speeches that go around there is something that each of those heightened moments that go viral have in common. And it's that. It's people who aren't hiding.
Susan Hyatt (06:33):
You're so right. As soon as you were talking about that and you talked about award shows, I'm like, Viola Davis, she's going to say something and it's going to go viral because she's not talk about someone who's not hiding anymore.
Samara Bay (06:48):
I'm partly here as a coach to be like that history of hiding is fair. It's understandable. We are not here to add more shame, especially if we're talking about women, especially if we're talking about people of color, non-binary folks. There are reasons that we walk into a space that was literally not built for us and we feel weird, and we use all of the skills we've picked up our entire life to hide by, which I mean sound more generic or quieter or fill in the blank. That feels right for each of you listening. And so we get to just give ourselves and each other a big hug. That's what we're actually dealing with, and our best friend is dealing with it too, and this is a thing. And then the second half is, what else is at our disposal? What version of ourselves feels free?
Susan Hyatt (07:43):
What version of ourselves feels free? Oh my gosh. Well, so as you're coaching people and working with people on this, what do you notice? You mentioned earlier that people, and I have noticed this when I'm working with entrepreneurs to start podcasts or to do reels on social media or get on that stage, people have a really hard time seeing themselves, hearing themselves, judging what they see and hear. So what do you think is the antidote to that? Because something that I wrote down when I was reading your book that I think is so important is this idea of professionalism and that, oh, well, I don't sound professional enough or expert status enough. What do you say about that?
Samara Bay (08:33):
Thank you for that. Yeah, listen, there is a standard for how to talk that enough lovely folks embody Tom Hanks comes to mind. Nothing wrong. I'm not here to demonize, I'm not a monster, but we've grown up hearing this. There's a female version of it, but usually it sounds like a newscaster who's sort of devoid of any unique personality and who has learned the tricks of the trade. And we learn this, we learn this, we learn this, we learn it in the media, we learn it when women run for president, and we are told that they're not presidential enough. We learned this for anybody who's ever been in a corporate setting and taken an executive presence class, executive presence and professionalism and not presidential enough are all codes
And to name the code. This is voice bias, which linguists actually talk about inside of linguistic institutions, but I don't hear it in the mainstream ever. So I'm over here waving a flag, being like, let's stand dance perhaps at the intersection of public speaking and social justice and just name that if we feel uncomfortable and we look back at ourselves, it's probably because our own personal histories. Most of us have these wild moments that really stand out when our mom said, you're ugly when you cry, or You're too loud or right, or maybe it wasn't our mom. We all have these stories. As it turns out it's our own personal histories. And then it's also these big cultural stories. What are powerful people supposed to sound like? If you Google, how do I sound authoritative, which obviously people must have done a lot because you Google it and five little bullet points pop up and they're literally exactly what you would guess.
Keep your voice low, like your literal pitch. So women whose vocal chords tend to be shorter, as with string instruments, thus you sound higher pitch. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. You'll never sound authoritative, right? So the first thing that a lot of women do when they're in a professional context is I have to lower my pitch to really try to get taken seriously. Of course we do, because we know without even Googling it, we sense a higher pitched voice equals taken less seriously. The bullet points are, I mean, literally just Google it for all of you who are listening, it's exactly what you'd expect. And that is what I lovingly call the old sound of power. It is inevitably kind of one way. That's what standards are. And just as with beauty standards, we are so inundated by them that we don't even know. We hate the sound of our voice. We just think we're wrong. We don't sound like that.
Susan Hyatt (11:22):
Wow. Listen, if y'all don't listen to any other moment to this podcast, but please do that right there is life-changing
Samara Bay (11:34):
The thing because then thank you. And then it's like, I just feel really, I get really fiery about this because I love it. We don't talk about it enough and listen, voices are invisible spoiler, but so as a result, we forget that that's even thing. We just think our relationship to our voice is quite honestly fucked up. And oh, well, something must be wrong with me. I can't hack it. So just taking this step back and going, where did that story come from? Is inevitably also saying, whose voices do I love? Right? We were talking about that earlier. Earlier. What is it to not hide? Well, we can talk about the logistics of, I don't know, this sound that comes out of you, how much you say the word or don't say like or swear or don't swear, whatever. I love getting into the specifics. But underneath all that, the real thing is somebody who decided I'm the new sound of power.
Susan Hyatt (12:34):
I'm the new sound of power,
Samara Bay (12:37):
Which obviously listen inside of that, we get to all talk about what this word power even does to us. I know it's uncomfortable for a lot of people slash women to claim because of this, the power over versus power too. We all think power means how we treat other people and how we Lord power over them. But I mean power as agency, as claiming our space in the world as this sort of spiritual birthright of having ideas and then just trusting that you can say them because they'll be of use to somebody.
Susan Hyatt (13:17):
Man, I tell you what this is. I mean, my feet are sweating, and that is the sign of good shit on my podcast.
Samara Bay (13:26):
I know about your feet and your sweaty feet. I
Susan Hyatt (13:28):
About my sweat feet. Listen, they sweating. Okay. And what I love about this is I think that when I started this company in 2007, I received a lot of feedback when I would teach. So I was very early on in my career hired by Dr. Martha Beck, the woman who trained me and others to teach classes for their coaches in training. And I love doing it. I still train coaches within my own company. I still guess teach places. I love to teach. But one of the things that happened was Martha Beck would send out surveys to her coaches, and inevitably, I always got the most scores and usually the high scores. But I also would get one or two dudes because there weren't very many men in life coach training then who would say things like, her voice irritates me. She's too perky.
And really diminish my ability in their minds, my ability to teach them something. Because they were like, who is this young? This was 17 years ago. Who is this 30 something trying to tell me with her perky little voice? And I didn't realize it then, but working through that for myself, this is how I sound. Take it or leave it. This is how I sound. But I was confronted with that pretty early on in my speaking in this way. And so for those of you listening who cringe at the sound of your own voice, it's the patriarchy. Samara just taught us.
Samara Bay (15:41):
It's the patriarchy. It's white supremacy, it's colonialism. It's the idea on a literal level, what colonists. We think of the old timey colonists coming in and saying, oh, you savages. You don't know. The first thing that they do is take away their sense of their culture and their sense of their identity. Our voice reflects our culture and our identity. I mean, I came up as a dialect coach for actors in Hollywood. It's a funny way into this, but it meant that I was surrounded by starting out and also movie star level actors for whom English was their second language. And to see in these quiet moments with them while they're preparing to go on camera and be their biggest selves, to see the vulnerability inside of what it is to speak in a second language and know that people are judging you no matter where you go, you cannot control their perception and that they're going to be making assumptions. I mean, as somebody who grew up watching My Fair Lady, for anyone who knows this musical, it's literally about a flower girl who's low class, who has a cockney British accent like turn of the century England. And this dude who's like, I was a social experiment. I'll give her a fancy accent and her life will open up, and then that's what happens,
Susan Hyatt (17:04):
Samara Bay (17:07):
And seven year old me was watching that not thinking necessarily about voice bias, but that is how the world works. And that moment when that gentleman called your voice perky
Was a moment where you got to go. Do I shift how I sound in order to completely, understandably try to affect how I'm perceived or do I own it? And for all of us, we have those moments over and over and over and over and over and over and over. And sometimes we do make the adjustment because it keeps us safe, it keeps us in business, it gives us our job. And then when we have a little bit of power or privilege or platform, you and I, I'm thinking of, we get to go, what do I want to model? What kind of leadership do we need to see more of in the world? Do we need to see quirkier leadership? If I'm closing my eyes and dreaming of better leaders in all these institutions, we're seeing just, I mean, I like to reference that during the strike, Hollywood is clearly broken, DC clearly broken, most of corporate America clearly broken. I wonder if leadership is an issue across all sectors, all industries, and not everyone, of course, not every human, but sometimes the wrong people are in charge. And I wonder if this sacred relationship with our own voice, it is sometimes, as I said, fucked up is getting in the way of the right leaders being in charge,
The perkier leaders. And so we get what it means is that when we get that kind of feedback or we don't get it, but we sense it, somebody's not taking you seriously in this space. It's actually a radical act to be inside of that feeling and to go, ah, I am changing what power sounds like right where I am.
Susan Hyatt (19:15):
I mean, I didn't think those words. If I had heard this podcast, I could have said that to myself. I think I thought something more like he can fuck off. But that was my version of this is what a good instructor sounds like today. This is
Samara Bay (19:34):
Why Susan, when you asked to have me on, I was like, yes. Because really, you are absolutely a shining example of the new sound of power and the new sound of power inevitably sounds in many, many ways. So I'm not saying now everybody sound like Susan,
Susan Hyatt (19:49):
Right? Please don't,
Samara Bay (19:51):
Unless you want
Susan Hyatt (19:52):
An ordinate amount of hate mail.
Samara Bay (19:55):
But look, showing up like ourselves with the life we've actually lived coming out in how we sound,
Susan Hyatt (20:02):
Samara Bay (20:03):
There is a reason that I don't try to police the amount of likes that I use here I am just naming it. Here I am two Ivy League degrees, a book that came out with Penguin Random House that I got an insanely big advance for stepping into my quote, thought leadership and doing so while trying to recognize me.
Susan Hyatt (20:29):
Yeah. And what did you notice? Because you've had quite a wonderful career as a speaking coach, as you mentioned to celebrities. I mean, let's name a okay
Samara Bay (20:50):
With this question. What I was like, where were you going with this question? I
Susan Hyatt (20:55):
Know, as soon as you drop a couple names, then I'm going to make my point.
Samara Bay (20:59):
Okay. Some of the English is a second language folks, gal, Gado, Penelope Cruz, Ricky Martin.
Susan Hyatt (21:09):
Oh my gosh,
Samara Bay (21:11):
English is the first language. Rachel McAdams, Chris Brosnan, Keegan, Michael Key, a lot of Britts to Sound American, as you'd imagine.
Susan Hyatt (21:22):
Wow. Yeah. Just a few small time people.
Samara Bay (21:31):
I once tried to teach Al Pacino, how to say, a few lines in German. It's regular stuff.
Susan Hyatt (21:37):
Wow. Okay. So you have this very successful career, as you mentioned, two Ivy League degrees. What have you learned about your own power, your own voice through all of this?
Samara Bay (21:55):
I mean so much, but I will say that a real aha origin story for me with all this that I didn't even realize, I didn't even realize, right? Our stuff is so close, but when I was in my mid twenties, I was in acting grad school, I got an M f A in acting, and I started to lose my voice. It was the middle of the middle. It was halfway through the second year, and it was so painful. I mean, I didn't know what was happening, but my vocal chords were inflamed and talking to me saying, stop, stop talking, stop. And so I did. And it was months where I just tried to eat differently. It was like, I don't know. And these late nights in Providence, Rhode Island and the dead of winter drinking tea being like, voice, what are you trying to tell me?
And I finally got myself to an ear, nose and throat doctor, and they stuck a scope. It's like this tiny little camera up my nose and down the back of my throat. For anyone listening, it's a feeling you don't forget. And I got a photo of my vocal chords, and from that, it was obvious that I had blisters forming on both sides, which is a telltale sign of vocal nodules from speaking in my case a tiny bit. It's going to track so beautifully below my body's quote, optimum pitch. I've been talking a little bit low, not like Elizabeth Holmes levels, but just something. And I was 24, this probably started, I'm going to guess years earlier, where I must have calculated below the level of conscious thought. I come across as really warm, friendly, bubbly, whatever adjectives you might come up with. What if I cut through the potential for naivete by just seeming like a little in on the joke?
And it worked until it didn't, and I lost my voice entirely. And the weird part about this story is not that diagnosis, it's that the day I got it, I went back to class. I had missed the morning session, and the guy who ran the whole program stopped everything in front of everyone and said, so what's the diagnosis? And I tried to make sound, come through these angry chords, and as loud as I could, I said, vocal nodules, I have to go on vocal rest. And he said, huh, yeah, just as I thought, bad usage, right? It's also a phrase that we use, but obviously he was saying, you're not just the victim here. You're also the perpetrator. Here's a little shame. Shame ball for you, just as I thought. Did you catch that? Did you catch that? Yeah,
Susan Hyatt (24:51):
Just as I thought,
Samara Bay (24:53):
Just as I, bad usage.
Susan Hyatt (24:56):
What a douche canoe.
Samara Bay (24:58):
Bless, right? I did have to tell this story in my book, bless. But I realized years later that this was the book that I wished I'd had at 24, because I went to a speech pathologist after that. She helped me literally talk again, find my voice. That's mine. But the shame ball stayed with me way longer. And I didn't know what to do with that sense of self-sabotage. I did this to myself. And the more that I coach, the more that I know this is very common, and that anybody who's gotten feedback, even if it's super well-meaning, not even trolling on the internet, but that well-meaning manager or boss or mom or whatever, who's like, no one's going to take you seriously unless you stop doing this one little tiny habit of yours. You've got this.
Susan Hyatt (25:55):
You do that very well.
Samara Bay (25:58):
I'm like the collector of everybody's shit. This is what coaching is. It's like there is not the only thing the coaching is, but there is an element of Tell me your stuff. And then people realize they have it. They have stuff. We all have money stories. We all have voice stories. And so as with a money story, some of it is factual. I grew up poor type of a story. And some of it is myth. People with money are, same thing with voice stories. Some of it is my voice is lower than other girls were growing up, or something like that. And some are just these half truths and myths that our society says that we have accidentally absorbed and taken in as fact.
Susan Hyatt (26:48):
I think when I think back to my, I have a ton of them, and just listening to you talk through that. When I was in school, I'm actually an introvert, but I'm a very outgoing introvert. So when I'm with people, I love people and I will talk and engage in all of those things. I just need to have recovery time. But in school, I was very talkative, always in trouble for talking. And so all of my report cards from Catholic school were very much on the back. The conduct was like, Susan talks too much. Susan has no respect for authority. Susan needs to quiet down. Susan is too loud, everyone. And it's like, now I'm paid to talk, which is the best ever. And so when you talk about voice stories and shaming stories and all of those things, we do all have them. And I'm like, yeah, I literally was in trouble for using my voice from kindergarten on. I mean, you name it. I really
Samara Bay (27:57):
Resonate with this. Absolutely. Absolutely. How inconvenient it must have been that we had stuff to say and said it
Susan Hyatt (28:07):
How inconvenient is, right? Because I was usually raising my hand to be like, but what about, but why? But how come it would've been easier for me to just be quiet?
Samara Bay (28:23):
Yes. Those of us who question all the things. All the things.
Susan Hyatt (28:28):
So for people listening who obviously y'all need to go get this book. We're putting the link of course in the show notes, but you can buy it in all the places. It's on Amazon, obviously, it's in all major booksellers. Is there any special place you prefer people go get this book?
Samara Bay (28:48):
I mean, I always love to shout out indies. If your local bookstore doesn't still have it on shelves, they should. But also book, what's it called? Like bookshop.org or IndieBound? Yeah, get it anywhere. Get it anywhere.
Susan Hyatt (29:02):
And if you could challenge the, you've got nerve audience to do one thing, what would it be?
Samara Bay (29:12):
Okay, here's my thought.
Susan Hyatt (29:14):
Samara Bay (29:18):
The thing about biases is that we've all got them. So we can say that guy, those guys who were trying to keep you small. But the reality is each of us is also perpetuating biases on other people, deciding every day who we should take seriously, who we should listen to. And this ultimately ends up affecting whether or not we decide we are worth listening to. So my loving nudge is that we just maybe just take a day, maybe that day becomes the rest of your life, and start to notice those little biases when they crop up. Oh, I need to speak to somebody who has a less thick accent. Oh, I am going to head towards that mom at the playground and not that mom, and have a second wiser thought, right?
Susan Hyatt (30:13):
Look at you trying to make us better people and all.
Samara Bay (30:18):
I'm just trying to save the world over here from a voice freedom perspective.
Susan Hyatt (30:24):
It's so good. It's so good. Well, I appreciate you taking the time to come talk to us. Y'all go get this book. You're going to be obsessed and consider your own voice, the new sound of power.
Samara Bay (30:40):
I am so obsessed. Listen, Susan, I know, know some of your followers community. I'm talking to each of you right now. You are actually the actual, actual new sound of power. And the question is not whether or not, the question is, what does that do to you to give you a little bit more boost to enter that space that's not used to hearing people like you. Sound like you actually sound and go, hi, I've arrived.
Susan Hyatt (31:12):
Okay. Are you done playing peek-a-boo with your life? Then join me. Hello. At this year's Finish strong event in Savannah, Georgia. You, me, a group of fearless women and a collective roar that says we won't be silenced. We're going to amplify our truths, challenge conventions, and make sure that by the end of 2023, every corner of the globe, here's our echo. October 6th through the eighth, finish strong event.com. Snag that ticket. Savannah's about to witness a sound and fury like no other, ready to make some noise.
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